Skip to main content

Full text of "Man Eaters Of Kumaon"

See other formats


8]<OU 166790 >m 





With an Introduction by 


and a Prefatp by 



Oxford University Press, Amen House, London E.C.j 




Jim Corbett 1944 

First published 1944 


Reprinted 1949, 1952, 




np HESE jungle stories by Jim Corbett merit as much popularity 
JL and as wide a circulation as Rudyard Kipling's Jungle 
Books. Kipling's Jungle Books were fiction, based on great 
knowledge of jungle life; Corbett's stories are fact, and fact is 
often stranger than fiction. These stories should prove of 
entrancing interest to all boys and girls who like exciting yarns; 
they should be of equal interest to all who take any interest in 
the wild life of the jungle; they should prove of great value to 
any genuine sportsman who wishes to earn by his own efforts 
the credit of shooting a tiger; they will be of interest even to the 
so-called sportsman who feels some pride in killing a tiger when 
all that he has done is to fire straight from a safe position on a 
machan or on the back of a staunch elephant, when all the hard 
work involved in beating up a tiger to his death has been done 
by others. 

Corbett's description of his campaign against the man-eaters 
of the Kumaon Hills shows the qualities that a successful shikari 
needs, physical strength, infinite patience, great power of 
observation and power not only to notice small signs but also to 
draw the right inference from those signs. To these must be 
added great courage. I will not make quotations from the book 
to prove this statement. Read the book for 1 yourself; you will 
soon see the truth of it; these qualities were exhibited by Corbett 
himself, by his friends who helped him in some of these cam- 
paigns, by the villagers whom he went to protect, and by his 
big-hearted and faithful companion Robin. 

Jim Corbett's name is already a household word in Kumaon; 
I hope that as a result of this bodk it will get still wider fame. 



HP HESE stories are the true account of Major Corbett' s 
JL experiences with man-eating tigers in the jungles -'of the 
United Provinces. I am most glad to commend them to all 
who enjoy a tale well told of action and adventure. 

The sportsman will find much to entertain and inform him 
in Major Corbett's book. If every beginner would study it before 
tackling his first tiger, fewer persons would be killed or seriously 
injured when hunting these creatures. For something more is 
required than courage and good marksmanship for the success- 
ful pursuit of dangerous game. Forethought, preparation, and 
persistence are indispensable to success. 

Over wide areas of the United Provinces the authors name 
is familiar to the village folk as that of the man who has brought 
them relief from the great fear inspired by a cruel and malignant 
presence in their midst. Many a District Officer, faced with the 
utter disorganization of rural life that attends the presence of a 
man-eating tiger or panther, has turned to Jim Corbett for help 
never, I believe, in vain. Indeed the destruction of these 
abnormal and dangerous animals is a service of great value both 
to the afflicted population and to Government. 

The reader will find in these stories many proofs of the 
author's love of nature. Having spent in. Major Corbett's 
company some part of such holidays as I have contrived to 
take during my time in India, I can with confidence write of him 
that no man with whom I have hunted in any continent better 
understands the signs of the jungle. Very often he has told me 
of the intense happiness he has derived from his observations of 
wild life. I make no doubt that it is in large part the recollection 
of all that his own eyes have brought him that moves him now 
to dedicate this first edition of his book to the aid of soldiers 
blinded in war, and to arrange that all profits from its sale shall 
be devoted to the funds of St Dunstan's, the famous institution 

viii Man-eaters of Kumaon 

in which men who have given their sight for their country and 
for the great cause of human freedom may learn, despite their 
affliction, to lead useful and happy lives; and whose beneficent 
ministrations are extended now to the armed forces in India. 

Viceroy's House LINLITHGOW 

New Delhi 







THE MOHAN MAN-EATER - - - - 109 

THE FISH OF MY DREAMS - - - - 139 

THE KANDA MAN-EATER - - - - 145 


THE THAK MAN-EATER - - - - 168 



Photographs by the author unless otherwise stated 
THE AUTHOR - - - - Frontispiece 


MOUNTAIN AND VALE ' - - Facing page 32 






' WHERE THE WATER RESTS ' - - - 160 


SKETCH MAP OF KUMAON - - End-paper (back) 


As many of the stories in this book are about man-eating 
tigers, it is perhaps desirable to explain why these animals 
develop man-eating tendencies. 

A man-eating tiger is a tiger that has been compelled, through 
stress of circumstances beyond its control, to adopt a diet alien 
to it. The stress of circumstances is, in nine cases out of ten, 
wounds, and in the tenth case old age. The wound that has 
caused a particular tiger to take to man-eating might be the 
result of a carelessly fired shot and failure to follow up and 
recover the wounded animal, or be the result of the tiger having 
lost his temper when killing a porcupine. Human beings are 
not the natural prey of tigers, and it is only when tigers have 
been incapacitated through wounds or old age that, in order to 
five, they are compelled to take to a diet of human flesh. 

A tiger when killing its natural prey, which it does either 
by stalking or lying in wait for it, depends for the success of its 
attack on its speed and, to a lesser extent, on the condition of its 
teeth and claws. When, therefore, a tiger is suffering from one 
or more painful wounds, or when its teeth are missing or defec- 
tive and its claw worn down, and it is unable to catch the ani- 
mals it has been accustomed to eating, it is driven by necessity to 
killing human beings. The change-over from animal to human 
flesh is, I believe, in most cases accidental. As an illustration 
of what I mean by ' accidental ' I quote the case of the Muktesar 
man-eating tigress. This tigress, a comparatively young animal, 
in an encounter with a porcupine lost an eye and got some fifty 
quills, varying in length from one to nine inches, embedded in 
the arm and under the pad of her right foreleg. Several of these 
quills after striking a bone had doubled back in the form of a 
U, the point, and the broken-off end, being quite close together. 
Suppurating sores formed where she endeavoured to extract the 
quills with her teeth, and while she was lying up in a thick patch 

Author's^fote xi 

of grass, starving and licking Her wounds, a woman selected this 
particular patch of grass to cut as fodder for her cattle. At first 
the tigress took no notice, but when the woman had cut the grass 
right up to where she was lying the tigress struck once, the blow 
crushing in the woman's skull. Death was instantaneous, for, 
when found the following day, she was grasping her sickle with 
one hand and holding a tuft of grass, which she was about to 
cut when struck, with the other. Leaving the woman lying 
where she had fallen, the tigress limped off for a distance of over 
a mile and took refuge in a little hollow under a fallen tree. 
Two days later a man came to chip firewood off this fallen tree, 
and the tigress who was lying on the far side killed him. The 
man fell across the tree, and as he had removed his coat and 
shirt and the tigress had clawed his back when killing him, 
it is possible that the smell of the blood trickling down his 
body as he hung across the bole of the tree first gave her the 
idea that he was something that she could satisfy her hunger 
with. However that may be, before leaving him she ate a 
small portion from his back. A clay after she killed her third 
victim deliberately, and without having received any pro- 
vocation. Thereafter she became an established man-eater 
and had killed twenty-four people before slie was finally 
accounted for. 

A tiger on a fresh kill, or a wounded tiger, or a tigress with 
small cubs, will occasionally kill human beings who disturb 
them; but these tigers cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be 
called man-eaters, though they are often so called. Personally I 
would give a tiger the benefit of the doubt once, and once again, 
before classing it as a man-eater, and whenever possible I would 
subject the alleged victim to a post-mortem before letting the kill 
go down on the records as the kill of a tiger or a leopard, as the 
case might be. This subject of post-mortems of human beings 
alleged to have been killed by either tigers or leopards or, in the 
plains, by wolves or hyenas, is of great imporfance, for, though 

xii Man-eaters of Kumaon 

I rfefrain from giving instances, I know of cases where deaths 
have wrongly been ascribed to carnivora. 

It is a popular fallacy that all man-eaters are old and mangy, 
the mange being attributed to the excess of salt in human flesh. 
I am not competent to give any opinion on the relative quantity 
of salt in human or animal flesh; but I can, and I do, assert that 
a diet of human flesh, so far from having an injurious effect on 
the coat of man-eaters, has quite the opposite effect, for all the 
man-eaters I have seen have had remarkably fine coats. 

Another popular belief in connexion with man-eaters is that 
the cubs of these animals automatically become man-eaters. 
This is quite a reasonable supposition; but it is not borne out 
by actual facts, and the reason why the cubs of a man-eater do 
not themselves become man-eaters, is that human beings are 
not the natural prey of tigers, or of leopards. 

A cub will eat whatever its mother provides, and I have even 
known of tiger cubs assisting their mothers to kill human beings: 
but I do not know of a single instance of a cub, after it had left 
the protection of its parent, or after that parent had been killed, 
taking to killing human beings. 

In the case of human beings killed by carnivora, the doubt is 
often expressed' as to whether the animal responsible for the kill 
is a tiger or leopard. As a general rule to which I have seen 
no exceptions tigers are responsible for all kills that take place 
in daylight, and leopards are responsible for all kills that take 
place in the dark. Both animals are semi-nocturnal forest- 
dwellers, have much the same habits, employ similar methods of 
killing, and both are capable of carrying their human victims for 
long distances. It would be natural, therefore, to expect them to 
hunt at the same hours; and that they do not do so is due to the 
difference in courage of the two animals. When a tiger becomes 
a man-eater it loses all fear of human beings and, as human 
beings move about more freely in the day than they do at night, 
it is able to secure its victims during daylight hours and there 

Author's Note xiii 

is no necessity for it to visit their habitations at night. A leopard 
on the other hand, even after it has killed scores of human be- 
ings, never loses its fear of man; and, as it is unwilling to face up 
to human beings in daylight, it secures its victims when they are 
moving about at night, or by breaking into their houses at night. 
Owing to these characteristics of the two animals, namely, that 
one loses its fear of human beings and kills in the daylight, 
while the other retains its fear and kills in the dark, man-eating 
tigers are easier to shoot than man-eating leopards. 

The frequency with which a man-eating tiger kills depends on 
(a) the supply of natural food in the area in which it is operating; 
(6) the nature of the disability which has caused it to become 
a man-eater, and (c) whether it is a male or a female with cubs. 

Those of us who lack the opportunity of forming our own 
opinion on any particular subject are apt to accept the opinions 
of others, and in no case is this more apparent than in the case 
of tigers here I do not refer to man-eaters in particular, but to 
tigers in general. The author who first used the words ' as cruel 
as a tiger' and 'as bloodthirsty as a tiger', when attempting 
to emphasize the evil character of the villain of his piece, not 
only showed a lamentable ignorance of the animal he defamed, 
but coined phrases which have come into universal circulation, 
and which are mainly responsible for the wrong opinion of tigers 
held by all except that very small proportion of the public who 
have the opportunity of forming their own opinions. 

When I sec the expression ' as cruel as a tiger ' and ' as blood- 
thirsty as a tiger ' in print, I think of a small boy armed with an 
old muzzle-loading gun the right barrel of which was split for 
six inches of its length, and the stock and barrels of which were 
kept from falling apart by lashings of brass wire wandering 
through the jungles of the terai and bhabar in the days when 
there were ten tigers to every one that now survives; sleeping 
anywhere he happened to be when night came on, with a small 
fire to give him company and warmth, wakened at intervals by 

xiv Man-eaters of Kumaon 

the calling of tigers, sometimes in the distance, at other times 
near at hand; throwing another stick on the fire and turning over 
and continuing his interrupted sleep without one thought of un- 
ease; knowing from his own short experience and from what 
others, who like himself had spent their days in the jungles, had 
told him, that a tiger, unless molested, would do him no harm; 
or during daylight hours avoiding any tiger he saw, and when 
that was not possible, standing perfectly still until it had passed 
and gone, before continuing on his way. And I think of him on 
one occasion stalking half-a-dozen jungle fowl that were feeding 
in the open, and on creeping up to a plum bush and standing up 
to peer over, the bush heaving and a tiger walking out on the far 
side and, on clearing the bush, turning round and looking at the 
boy with an expression on its face which said as clearly as any 
words, 'Hello, kid, what the hell are you doing here?' and, re- 
ceiving no answer, turning round and waiting away very slowly 
without once looking back.. And then again I think of the tens 
of thousands of men, women and children who, while working 
in the forests or cutting grass or collecting dry sticks, pass day 
after day close to where tigers are lying up and who, when they 
return safely to their homes, do not even know that they have 
been under the observation of this so called ' cruel ' and ' blood- 
thirsty' animal. 

Half a century has rolled by since the day the tiger walked 
out of the plum bush, the latter thirty-two years of which have 
been spent in the more or less regular pursuit of man-eaters, and 
though sights have been seen which would have causfiiLa. stone 
^ I have not seen a case where a tiger has been deli- 

berately cruel or where it has been bloodthirsty to the extent 
that it has killed, without provocation, more than it has needed 
to satisfy its hunger or the hunger of its cubs. 

A tiger's function in the scheme of things is to help maintain 
the balance in nature and if, OJQ. rare occasions when driven by 
dire necessity, he kills a human being or ^ehen his natural food 

Author's Note xv 

has been ruthlessly exterminated by man he kills two per cent 
of the cattle he is alleged to have killed, it is not fair that for 
these acts a whole species should be branded as being cruel and 

Sportsmen are admittedly conservative, the reason being that it 
has taken them years to form their opinions, and as each indivi- 
dual has a different point of view, it is only natural that opinions 
should differ on minor, or even in some cases on major, points, 
and for this reason I do not flatter myself that all the opinions 
I have expressed will meet with universal agreement. 

There is, however, one point on which I am convinced that 
all sportsmen no matter whether their viewpoint has been a 
platform on a tree, the back of an elephant or their own feet 
will agree with me, and that is, that a tiger is a large-hearted 
gentleman with boundless courage and that when he is exter- 
minated as exterminated he will be unless public opinion rallies 
to his support India will be the poorer by having lost the 
finest of her fauna. 

Leopards, unlike tigers, are to a certain extent scavengers and 
become man-eaters by acquiring a taste for human flesh when 
unrestricted slaughter of game has deprived them of their 
natural food. 

The dwellers in our hills are predominantly Hindu, and as 
such cremate their dead. The cremation invariably takes place 
on the bank of a stream or river in order that the ashes may be 
washed down into the Ganges and eventually into the sea* As 
most of the villages are situated high up on the hills, while the 
streams or rivers are in many cases miles away down in the 
valleys, it will be realized that a funeral entails a considerable 
tax on the man-power of a small community when, in addition 
to the carrying party, labour has to be provided to collect and 
carry the fuel needed for the cremation. In normal times these 

xvi Man-eaters of Kumaon 

rites are carried out very effectively; but when disease in 
epidemic form sweeps through the hills and the inhabitants die 
faster than they can be disposed of, a very simple rite, which 
consists of placing a live coal in the mouth of the deceased, is 
performed in the village and the body is then carried to the 
edge of the hill and cast into the valley below. 

A leopard, in an area in which his natural food is scarce, 
finding these bodies very soon acquires a taste for human flesh, 
and when the disease dies down and normal conditions are 
established, he very naturally, on finding his food supply cut 
off, takes to killing human beings. 

Of the two man-eating leopards of Kumaon, which between 
them killed five hundred and twenty-five human beings, one 
followed on the heels of a very severe outbreak of cholera, 
while the other followed the mysterious disease which swept 
through India in 1918 and was called 'war fever'. 


I WAS shooting with Eddie Knowles in Malani when I first 
heard of the tiger which later received official recognition 
as the ' Champawat man-eater ' . 

Eddie, who will long be remembered in this province as a 
sportsman par excellence and the possessor of an inexhaustible 
fund of shikar yarns, was one of those few, and very fortunate, 
individuals who possess the best of everything in life. His 
rifle was without equal in accuracy and striking power, and while 
one of his brothers was the best gun shot in India, another 
brother was the best tennis player in the Indian Army. When 
therefore Eddie informed me that his brother-in-law, the best 
shikari in the world, had been deputed by Government to shoot 
the Champawat man-eater, it was safe to assume that a very 
definite period had been put to the animal's activities. 

The tiger, however, for some inexplicable reason, did not 
die, and was causing Government a great deal of anxiety when 
I visited Naini Tal four years later. Rewards were offered, 
special shikaris employed, and parties of Gurkhas sent out from 
the depot in Almora. Yet in spite of these measures, the toll 
of human victims continued to mount alarmingly. 

The tigress, for such the animal turned out to be, had arrived 
in Kumaon as a full-fledged man-eater, from Nepal, from 
whence she had been driven out by a body of armed Nepalese 
after she had killed two hundred human beings, and during the 
four years she had been operating in Kumaon had added two 
hundred and thirty-four to this number. 

This is how matters stood, when shortly after my arrival 
in Naini Tal I received a visit from Berthoud. Berthoud, who 
was Deputy Commissioner of Naini Tal at that time, and who 
after his tragic death now lies buried in an obscure grave in 
Haldwani, was a man who was loved and respected by all who 

2 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

knew him, and it is not surprising therefore that when he told 
me of the trouble the man-eater was giving the people of his 
district, and the anxiety it was causing him, he took my promise 
with him that I would start for Champawat immediately on 
receipt of news of the next human kill. 

Two conditions I made, however: one that the Government 
rewards be cancelled, and the other, that the special shikaris, 
and regulars from Almora, be withdrawn. My reasons for 
making these conditions need no explanation for I am sure 
all sportsmen share my aversion to being classed as a reward- 
hunter and are as anxious as I am to avoid the risk of being 
accidentally shot. These conditions were agreed to, and a week 
later Berthoud paid me an early morning visit and informed 
me that news had been brought in during the night by runners 
that a woman had been killed by the man-eater at Pali, a village 
between Dabidhura and Dhunaghat. 

In anticipation of a start at short notice, I had engaged six 
men to carry my camp kit, and leaving after breakfast, we did 
a march the first day of seventeen miles to Dhari. Breakfasting 
at Mornaula next morning, we spent the night at Dabidhura, 
and arrived at Pali the following evening, five days after the 
woman had been killed. 

The people of the village, numbering some fifty men, women 
and children, weire in a state of abject terror, and though the 
sun was still up when I arrived I found the entire population 
inside their homes behind locked doors, and it was not until 
my men had made a fire in the courtyard and I was sitting 
down to a cup of tea that a door here and there was cautiously 
opened, and the frightened inmates emerged. 

I was informed that for five days no one had gone beyond 
their own doorsteps the insanitary condition of the courtyard 
testified to the truth of this Statement that food was running 
short, and that the people would starve if the tiger was not 
killed or driven away. 

The Champawat Man-eater J 

That the tiger was still in the vicinity was apparent. For 
three nights it had been heard calling on the road, distant a 
hundred yards from the houses, and that veiy day it had been 
seen on the cultivated land at the lower end of the village. 

The Headman of the village very willingly placed a room 
at my disposal, but as there were eight of us to share it, and 
the only door it possessed opened on to the insanitary court- 
yard, I elected to spend the night in the open. 

After a scratch meal which had to do duty for dinner, I saw 
my men safely shut into the room and myself took up a position 
on the side of the road, with my back to a tree. The villagers 
said the tiger was in the habit of perambulating along this 
road, and as the moon was at the full I thought there was a 
chance of my getting a shot provided I saw it first. 

I had spent many nights in the jungle looking for game, but 
this was the first time I had ever spent a night looking for a 
man-eater. The length of road immediately in front of me 
was brilliantly lit by the moon, but to right and left the over- 
hanging trees cast dark shadows, and when the night wind agi- 
tated the branches and the shadows moved, I saw a dozen tigers 
advancing on me, and bitterly regretted the impulse that had 
induced me to place myself at the man-eater's mercy. I lacked 
the courage to return to the village and admit I was too fright- 
ened to carry out my self-imposed task, and with teeth chatter- 
ing, as much from fear as from cold, I sat out the long night. 
As the grey dawn was lighting up the snowy range which I 
was facing, I rested my head on my drawn-up knees, and it 
was in this position my men an hour later found me fast 
asleep; of the tiger I had neither heard nor seen anything. 

Back in the village I tried to get the men who I could see 
were very surprised I had survived the night to take me to 
the places where the people of the village had from time to time 
been killed, but this they were unwilling to do. From the 
courtyard they pointed out the direction in which the kills had 

4 Man-eaters of Kurnaon 

taken place; the last kill the one that had brought me to the 
spot I was told, had taken place round the shoulder of the 
hill to the west of the village. The women and girls, some 
twenty in number, who had been out collecting oak leaves for 
the cattle when the unfortunate woman had been killed, were 
eager to give me details of the occurrence. It appeared that 
the party had set out two hours before midday and, after going 
half a mile, had climbed into trees to cut leaves. The victim 
and two other women had selected a tree growing on the edge 
of a ravine, which I subsequently found was about four feet 
deep and ten to twelve feet wide. Having cut all the leaves 
she needed, the woman was climbing down from the tree when 
the tiger, who had approached unseen, stood up on its hind 
legs and caught her by the foot. Her hold was torn from the 
branch she was letting herself down by, and, pulling her into 
the ravine, the tiger released her foot, and while she was 
struggling to rise caught her by the throat. After killing her 
it sprang up the side of the ravine and disappeared with her 
into some heavy undergrowth. 

All this had taken place a few feet from the two women on 
the tree, and had been witnessed by the entire party. As soon 
as the tiger and its victim were out of sight, the terror-stricken 
women and girls ran back to the village. The men had just 
come in for their midday meal and, when all were assembled 
and armed with drums, metal cooking-pots anything in fact 
that would produce a noise the rescue party set off, the men 
leading and the women bringing up the rear. 

Arrived at the ravine in which the woman had been killed, 
the very important question of ' what next? * was being debated 
when the tiger interrupted the proceedings by emitting a loud 
roar from the bushes thirty yards away. As one man the party 
turned and fled helter-skelter back to the village. When breath 
had been regained, accusations were made against one and 
another of having been the first to run and cause the stampede. 

The Chartipawat Man-eater $ 

Words ran high until it was suggested that if no one was 
afraid and all were as brave as they claimed to be, why not go 
back and rescue the woman without loss of more time? The 
suggestion was adopted, and three times the party got as far 
as the ravine. On the third occasion the one man who was 
armed with a gun fired it off, and brought the tiger roaring 
out of the bushes; after this the attempted rescue was very wisely 
abandoned. On my asking the gun man why he had not dis- 
charged his piece into the bushes instead of up into the air, 
he said the tiger was already greatly enraged and that if by any 
mischance he had hit it, it would undoubtedly have killed him. 

For three hours that morning I walked round the village 
looking for tracks and hoping, and at the same time dreading, 
to meet the tiger. At one place in a dark heavily-wooded 
ravine, while I was skirting some bushes, a covey of kaleege 
pheasants fluttered screaming out of them, and I thought my 
heart had stopped beating for good. 

My men had cleared a spot under a walnut tree for my 
meals, and after breakfast the Headman of the village asked 
me to mount guard while the wheat crop was being cut. He 
said that if the crop was not harvested in my presence, it would 
not be harvested at all, for the people were too frightened to 
leave their homes. Half an hour later the entire population of 
the village, assisted by my men, were hard at work while I 
stood on guard with a loaded rifle. By evening the crop from 
five large fields had been gathered, leaving only two small 
patches close to the houses, which the Headman said he would 
have no difficulty in dealing with the next day. 

The sanitary condition of the village had been much im- 
proved, and a second room for my exclusive use placed at my 
disposal; and that night, with thorn bushes securely wedged 
in the doorway to admit ventilation and exclude the man-eater, 
I made up for the sleep I had lost the previous night. 

My presence was beginning to put new heart into the people 

Man-eaters of Kumaon 

and they were moving about more freely, but I had not yet 
gained sufficient of their confidence to renew my request of 
being shown round the jungle, to which I attached some im- 
portance. These people knew every foot of the ground for 
miles round, and could, if they wished, show me where I was 
most likely to find the tiger, or in any case, where I could see 
its pug marks. That the man-eater was a tiger was an estab- 
lished fact, but it was not known whether the animal was 
young or old, a male or a female, and this information, which 
I believed would help me to get in touch with it, I could only 
ascertain by examining its pug marks. 

After an early tea that morning I announced that I wanted 
meat for my men and asked the villagers if they could direct 
me to where I could shoot a ghooral (mountain goat). The 
village was situated on the top of a long ridge running east and 
west, and just below the road on which I had spent the night 
the hill fell steeply away to the north in a series of grassy slopes; 
on these slopes I was told ghooral were plentiful, and several 
men volunteered to show me over the ground. I was careful 
not to show my pleasure at this offer and, selecting three men, 
I set out, telling the Headman that if I found the ghooral as 
plentiful as he said they were, I would shoot two for the village 
in addition to shooting one for my men. 

Crossing the road we went down a very steep ridge, keeping 
a sharp lookout to right and left, but saw nothing. Half a mile 
down the hill the ravines converged, and from their junction 
there was a good view of the rocky, and grass-covered, slope to 
the right. I had been sitting for some minutes, scanning the 
slope, with my back to a solitary pine which grew at this spot, 
when a movement high up on the hill caught my eye. When 
the movement was repeated I saw it was a ghooral flapping its 
ears; the animal was standing in grass and only its head was 
visible. The men had not seen the movement, and as the head 
was now stationary and blended in with its surroundings it 

The Champawat Man-eater 

was not possible to point it out to them. Giving them a general 
idea of the animal's position I made them sit down and watch 
while I took a shot. I was armed with an old Martini Henry 
rifle, a weapon that atoned for its vicious kick by being dead 
accurate up to any range. The distance was as near 200 yards 
as made no matter and, lying down and resting the rifle on a 
convenient pine root, I took careful aim, and fired. 

The smoke from the black powder cartridge obscured my 
view and the men said nothing had happened and that I had 
probably fired at a rock, or a bunch of dead leaves. Retaining 
my position I reloaded the rifle and presently saw the grass, a 
little below where I had fired, moving, and the hind quarters 
of the ghooral appeared. When the whole animal was free of 
the grass it started to roll over and over, gaming momentum as 
it came down the steep hill. When' it was half-way down it 
disappeared into heavy grass, and disturbed two ghooral that 
had been lying up there. Sneezing their alarm call, the two 
animals dashed out of the grass and went bounding up the 
hill. The range was shorter now, and, adjusting the leaf sight, 
I waited until the bigger of the two slowed down and put a 
bullet through its back, and as the other one turned, and made 
off diagonally across the hill, I shot it through the shoulder. 

On occasions one is privileged to accomplish the seemingly 
impossible. Lying in an uncomfortable position and shooting 
up at an angle of sixty degrees at a range of 200 yards at the 
small white mark on the ghooral's throat, there did not appear 
to be one chance in a million of the shot coming off, and yet 
the heavy lead bullet driven by black powder had not been 
deflected by a hair's breadth and had gone true to its mark, 
killing the animal instantaneously. Again, on the steep hillside 
which was broken up by small ravines and jutting rocks, the 
dead animal had slipped and rolled straight to the spot where 
its two companions were lying up; and before it had cleared 
the patch of grass the two companions in their turn were slipping 

Man-eaters of Kumadn 

rolling down the hill. As the three dead animals landed 
in the ravine in front of us it was amusing to observe the 
surprise and delight of the men who never before had seen a 
rifle in action. All thought of the man-eater was for the time 
being forgotten as they scrambled down into the ravine to 
retrieve the bag. 

The expedition was a great success in more ways than one; 
for in addition to providing a ration of meat for everyone, it 
gained me the confidence of the entire village. Shikar yarns, 
as everyone knows, never lose anything in repetition, and while 
the ghooral were being skinned and divided up the three men 
who had accompanied me gave full rein to *heir imagination, 
and from where I sat in the open, having breakfast, I could hear 
the exclamations of the assembled crowd when they were told 
that the ghooral had been shot at a range of over a mile, and 
that the magic bullets used had not only killed the animals 
like that but had also drawn them to the sahib's feet. 

After the midday meal the Headman asked me where I 
wanted to go, and how many men I wished to take with me. 
From the eager throng of men who pressed round I selected 
two of my late companions, and with them to guide me set off 
to visit the scene of the last human tragedy. 

The people of our hills are Hindus and cremate their dead, 
and when one of their number has been carried off by a man- 
eater it is incumbent on the relatives to recover some portion of 
the body for cremation even if it be only a few splinters of 
bone. In the case of this woman the cremation ceremony was 
yet to be performed, and as we started out, the relatives re- 
quested us to bring back any portion of the body we might find. 

From early boyhood I have made a hobby of reading, and 
interpreting, jungle signs. In the present case I had the account 
of the eye-witnesses who were present when the woman was 
killed, but eye-witnesses are not always reliable, whereas jungle 
signs are a true record of all that has transpired. On arrival 

The Champawat Man-eater 

at the spot a glance at the ground showed me that the 
could only have approached the tree one way, without 
seen, and that was up the ravine. Entering the ravine a hundred 
yards below the tree, and working up, I found the pug marks 
of a tiger in some fine earth that had sifted down between two 
big rocks; these pug marks showed the animal to be a tigress, 
a little past her prime. Further up the ravine, and some ten 
yards from the tree, the tigress had lain down behind a rock, 
presumably to wait for the woman to climb down from the tree. 
The victim had been the first to cut all the leaves she needed, 
and as she was letting herself down by a branch some two 
inches in diameter the tigress had crept forward and, standing 
up on her hind legs, had caught the woman by the foot and 
pulled her down into the ravine. The branch showed the des- 
peration with which the unfortunate woman had clung to it, 
for adhering to the rough oak bark where the branch, and 
eventually the leaves, had slipped through her grasp were 
strands of skin which had been torn from the palms of her hands 
and fingers. Where the tigress had killed the woman there were 
signs of a struggle and a big patch of dried blood; from here 
the blood trail, now dry but distinctly visible, led across the 
ravine and up the opposite bank. Following the blood trail 
from where it left the ravine we found the place in the bushes 
where the tigress had eaten her kill. 

It is a popular belief that man-eaters do not eat the head, 
hands, and feet of the human victims. This is incorrect. Man- 
eaters, if not disturbed, eat everything including the blood- 
soaked clothes, as I found on one occasion; however, that is 
another story, and will be told some other time. 

On the present occasion we found the woman's clothes, and a 
few pieces of bone which we wrapped up in the clean cloth we 
had brought for the purpose . Pitifully little as these remains were, 
they would suffice for the cremation ceremony which would en- 
sure the ashes of the high caste woman reaching Mother Ganges. 

Man-eaters of Kumaon 

tea I visited the scene of yet another tragedy. Separated 
ftoirn th6 main village by the public road was a small holding 
of a few acres. The owner of this holding had built himself 
a hut on the hillside just above the road. The man's wife, and 
the mother of his two children, a boy and a girl aged four and 
six respectively, was the younger of two sisters. These two 
sisters were out cutting grass one day on the hill above the 
hut when the tigress suddenly appeared and carried off the elder 
sister. For a hundred yards the younger woman ran after the 
tigress brandishing her sickle and screaming at the tigress to 
let her sister go, and take her instead. This incredible act of 
heroism was witnessed by the people in the main village. After 
carrying the dead woman for a hundred yards the tigress put 
her down and turned on her pursuer. With a loud roar it 
sprang at the brave woman who, turning, raced down the 
hillside, across the road, and into the village, evidently with 
the intention of telling the people what they, unknown to her, 
had already witnessed. The woman's incoherent noises were 
at the time attributed to loss of breath, fear, and excitement, 
and it was not until the rescue party that had set out with all 
speed had returned, unsuccessful, that it was found the woman 
had lost her power of speech. I was told this tale in the village, 
and when I climbed the path to the two-roomed hut where 
the woman was engaged in washing clothes, she had then been 
dumb a twelvemonth. 

Except for a strained look in her eyes the dumb woman 
appeared to be quite normal and, when I stopped to speak to 
her and tell her I had come to try and shoot the tiger that had 
killed her sister, she put her hands together and stooping down 
touched my feet, making me feel a wretched impostor. True, 
I had come with the avowed object of shooting the man-eater, 
but with an animal that had the reputation of never killing 
twice in the same locality, never returning to a kill, and whose 
domain extended over an area of many hundred square miles, 

The Champawat Man-eater II 

the chance of my accomplishing my object was about as good 
as finding a needle in two haystacks. 

Plans in plenty I had made way back in Naini Tal; one I 
had already tried and wild horses would not induce me to try 
it again, and the others now that I was on the ground were 
just as unattractive. Further there was no one I could ask 
for advice, for this was the first man-eater that had ever been 
known in Kumaon; and yet something would have to be done. 
So for the next three days I wandered through the jungles 
from sunrise to sunset, visiting all the places for miles round 
where the villagers told me there was a chance of my seeing 
the tigress. 

I would like to interrupt my tale here for a few minutes 
to refute a rumour current throughout the hills that on this, 
and on several subsequent occasions, 'I assumed the dress of a 
hill woman and, going into the jungle, attracted the man-eaters 
to myself and killed them with either a sickle or an axe. 11" 
I have ever done in the matter of alteration of dress has been. 
to borrow a sari and with it draped round me cut grass, '<& 
climbed into trees and cut leaves, and in no case has the rusif 
proved successful; though on two occasions to my knowledge 
man-eaters have stalked the tree I was on, taking cover, on 
one occasion behind a rock and on the other behind a fallen 
tree, and giving me no opportunity of shooting them. 

To continue. As the tigress now appeared to have left this 
locality I decided, much to the regret of the people of Pali, to 
move to Champawat fifteen miles due east of Pali. Making an 
early start, I breakfasted at Dhunaghat, and completed the 
journey to Champawat by sunset. The roads in this area were 
considered very unsafe, and men only moved from village to vil- 
lage or to the bazaars in large parties. After leaving Dhuna- 
ghat, my party of eight was added to by men from villages 
adjoining the road, and we arrived at Champawat thirty strong. 
Some of the men who joined me had been in a party of twenty 

12 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

men who had visited Champawat two months earlier, and they 
told me the following very pitiful story. 

'The road for a few miles on this side of Champawat runs 
along the south face of the hill, parallel to, and about fifty 
yards above the valley. Two months ago a party of twenty 
of us men were on our way to the bazaar at Champawat, and 
as we were going along this length of the road at about midday, 
we were startled by hearing the agonized cries of a human being 
coming from the valley below. Huddled together on the edge 
of the road we cowered in fright as these cries drew nearer and 
nearer, and presently into view came a tiger, carrying a naked 
woman. The woman's hair was trailing on the ground on one 
side of the tiger, and her feet on the other the tiger was hold- 
ing her by the small of the back and she was beating her chest 
and calling alternately on God and man to help her. Fifty 
yards from, and in clear view of us, the tiger passed with its 
burden, and when the cries had died away in the distance we 
continued on our way.' 

' And you twenty men did nothing? ' 

'No, sahib, we did nothing for we were afraid, and what 
can men do when they are afraid? And further, even if we 
had been able to rescue the woman without angering the tiger 
and bringing misfortune on ourselves, it would have availed 
the woman nothing, for she was covered with blood and would 
of a surety have died of her wounds/ 

I subsequently learned that the victim belonged to a village 
near Champawat, and that she had been carried off by the 
tiger while collecting dry sticks. Her companions had run back 
to the village and raised an alarm, and just as a rescue party 
was starting the twenty frightened men arrived. As these men 
knew the direction in which the tiger had gone with its victim, 
they joined the party, and can best carry on the story. 

' We were fifty or sixty strong when we set out to rescue the 
woman, and several of the party were armed with guns. A 

The Champawat Man-eater 1$ 

furlong from where the sticks collected by the woman were 
lying, and from where she had been carried off, we found her 
torn clothes. Thereafter the men started beating their drums 
and firing off their guns, and in this way we proceeded for 
more than a mile right up to the head of the valley, where 
we found the woman, who was little more than a girl, lying 
dead on a great slab of rock. Beyond licking off all the blood 
apd making her body clean the tiger had not touched her, and, 
there being no woman in our party, we men averted our faces 
as we wrapped her body in the loincloths which one and 
another gave, for she looked as she lay on her back as one who 
sleeps, and would waken in shame when touched/ 

With experiences such as these to tell and retell through the 
long night watches behind fast-shut doors, it is little wonder 
that the character and outlook on life of people living year 
after year in a man-eater country should change, and that one 
coming from the outside should feel that he had stepped right 
into a world of stark realities and the rule of the tooth and claw, 
which forced man in the reign of the sabre-toothed tiger to 
shelter in dark caverns. I was young and inexperienced in 
those far-off Champawat days, but, even so, the conviction I 
came to after a brief sojourn in that stricken land, that there 
is no more terrible thing than to live and have one's being 
under the shadow of a man-eater, has been strengthened by 
thirty-two years' subsequent experience. 

The Tahsildar of Champawat, to whom I had been given 
letters of introduction, paid me a visit that night at the Dak 
Bungalow where I was putting up, and suggested I should move 
next day to a bungalow a few miles away, in the vicinity of 
which many human beings had been killed. 

Early next morning, accompanied by the Tahsildar, I set out 
for the bungalow, and while I was having breakfast on the 
verandah two men arrived with news that a cow had been killed 
by a tiger in a village ten miles away. The Tahsildar excused 

14 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

himself to attend to some urgent work at Champawat, and 
said he would return to the bungalow in the evening and stay 
the night with me. My guides were good walkers, and as the 
track went downhill most of the way we covered the ten miles 
in record time. Arrived at the village I was taken to a cattle- 
shed in which I found a week-old calf, killed and partly eaten 
by a leopard. Not having the time or the inclination to shoot 
the leopard I rewarded my guides, and retraced my steps to 
the bungalow. Here I found the Tahsildar had not returned, 
and as there was still an hour or more of daylight left I went 
out with the chowkidar of the bungalow to look at a place where 
he informed me a tiger was in the habit of drinking; this place 
I found to be the head of the spring which supplied the garden 
with irrigation water. In the soft earth round the spring were 
tiger pug marks several days old, but these tracks were quite 
different from the pug marks I had seen, and carefully 
examined, in the ravine in which the woman of Pali village had 
been killed. 

On returning to the bungalow I found the Tahsildar was 
back, and as we sat on the verandah I told him of my day's 
experience. Expressing regret at my having had to go so far 
on a wild-goose chase, he rose, saying that as he had a long 
way to go he must start at once. This announcement caused 
me no little surprise, for twice that day he had said he would 
stay the night with me. It was not the question of his staying 
the night that concerned me, but the risk he was taking; how- 
ever, he was deaf to all my arguments and, as he stepped off 
the verandah into the dark night, with only one man following 
him carrying a smoky lantern which gave a mere glimmer of 
light, to do a walk of four miles in a locality in which men 
only moved in large parties in daylight, I took off my hat to 
a very brave man. Having watched him out of sight I turned 
and entered the bungalow. 

I have a tale to tell of that bungalow but I will not tell it 

The Champawat Man-eater 15 

here, for this is a book of jungle stories, and tales ' beyond the 
laws of nature ' do not consort well with such stories. 


I spent the following morning in going round the very 
extensive fruit orchard and tea garden and in having a bath at 
the spring, and at about midday the Tahsildar, much to my 
relief, returned safely from Champawat. 

I was standing talking to him while looking down a long 
sloping hill with a village surrounded by cultivated land in the 
distance, when I saw a man leave the village and start up the 
hill in our direction. As the man drew nearer I saw he was 
alternately running and walking, and was quite evidently the 
bearer of important news. Telling the Tahsildar I would return 
in a few minutes, I set off at a run 'down the hill, and when 
the man saw me coming he sat down to take breath. As soon 
as I was near enough to hear him he called out, ' Come quickly, 
sahib, the man-eater has just killed a girl/ 'Sit still/ I called 
back, and turning ran up to the bungalow. I passed the news 
on to the Tahsildar while I was getting a rifle and some cart- 
ridges, and asked him to follow me down to the village. 

The man who had come for me was one of those exasperating 
individuals whose legs and tongue cannot function at the same 
time. When he opened his mouth he stopped dead, and when 
he started to run his mouth closed; so telling him to shut his 
mouth and lead the way, we ran in silence down the hill. 

At the village an excited crowd of men, women and children 
awaited us and, as usually happens on these occasions, all started 
to talk at the same time. One man was vainly trying to quieten 
the babel. I led him aside and asked him to tell me what had 
happened. Pointing to some scattered oak trees on a gentle 
slope a furlong or so from the village, he said a dozen people 
were collecting dry sticks under the trees when a tiger suddenly 
appeared and caught one of their number, a girl sixteen or 

16 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

seventeen years of age. The rest of the party had run back to 
the village, and as it was known that I was staying at 
the bungalow a man had immediately been dispatched to 
inform me. 

The wife of the man I was speaking to had been of the party, 
and she now pointed out the tree, on the shoulder of the hill, 
under which the girl had been taken. None of the party had 
looked back to see if the tiger was carrying away its victim 
and, if so, in which direction it had gone. 

Instructing the crowd not to make a noise, and to remain in 
the village until I returned, I set off in the direction of the tree. 
The ground here was quite open and it was difficult to conceive 
how an animal the size of a tiger could have approached twelve 
people unseen, and its presence not detected, until attention 
had been attracted by the choking sound made by the girl. 

The spot where the girl had been killed was marked by a 
pool of blood and near it, and in vivid contrast to the crimson 
pool, was a broken necklace of brightly coloured blue beads 
which the girl had been wearing. From this spot the track led 
up and round the shoulder of the hill. 

The track of the tigress was clearly visible. On one side 
of it were great splashes of blood where the girl's head had 
hung down, and on the other side the trail of her feet. Half 
a mile up the hill I found the girl's sari, and on the brow of 
the hill her skirt. Once again the tigress was carrying a naked 
woman, but mercifully on this occasion her burden was dead. 

On the brow of the hill the track led through a thicket 
of blackthorn, on the thorns of which long strands of the girl's 
raven-black hair had caught. Beyond this was a bed of nettles 
through which the tigress had gone, and I was looking for a 
way round this obstruction when I heard footsteps behind me. 
Turning round I saw a man armed with a rifle coming towards 
me. I asked him why he had followed me when I had left 
instructions at the village that no one was to leave it. He said 

The Champawat Man-eater J7 

the Tahsildar had instructed him to accompany me, and that he 
was afraid to disobey orders. As he appeared determined to 
carry out his orders, and to argue the point would have meant 
the loss of valuable time, I told him to remove the heavy pair 
of boots he was wearing and, when he had hidden them under 
a bush, I advised him to keep close to me, and to keep a sharp 
lookout behind. 

I was wearing a very thin pair of stockings, shorts, and a 
pair of rubber-soled shoes, and as there appeared to be no way 
round the nettles I followed the tigress through them much to 
my discomfort. 

Beyond the nettles the blood trail turned sharply to the left, 
and went straight down the very steep hill, which was densely 
clothed with bracken and ringals. 1 A hundred yards down, 
the blood trail led into a narrow and very steep watercourse, 
down which the tigress had gone with some difficulty, as could 
be seen from the dislodged stones and earth. I followed this 
watercourse for five or six hundred yards, my companion getting 
more and more agitated the further we went. A dozen times 
he caught my arm and whispered in a voice full of tears that 
he could hear the tiger, either on one side or the other, or behind 
us. Half-way down the hill we came on a great pinnacle of 
rock some thirty feet high, and as the man had by now had all 
the man-eater hunting he could stand, I told him to climb the 
rock and remain on it until I returned. Very gladly he went 
up, and when he straddled the top and signalled to me that 
he was all right I continued on down the watercourse, which, 
after skirting round the rock, went straight down for a hundred 
yards to where it met a deep ravine coming down from the left. 
At the junction was a small pool, and as I approached it I saw 
patches of blood on my side of the water. 

The tigress had carried the girl straight down on this spot, 
and my approach had disturbed her at her meal. Splinters of 

1 Hill bamboos. 


18 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

bone were scattered round the deep pug marks into which 
discoloured water was slowly seeping and at the edge of the 
pool was an object which had puzzled me as I came down 
the watercourse, and which I now found was part of a human 
leg. In all the subsequent years I have hunted man-eaters I 
have not seen anything as pitiful as that young comely leg bit- 
ten off a little below the knee as clean as though severed by the 
stroke of an axe out of which the warm blood was trickling. 

While looking at the leg I had forgotten all about the tigress 
until I suddenly felt that I was in great danger. Hurriedly 
grounding the butt of the rifle I put two fingers on the triggers, 
raising my head as I did so, and saw a little earth from the 
fifteen-foot bank in front of me, come rolling down the steep 
side and plop into the pool. I was new to this game of man- 
eater hunting or I should not have exposed myself to an attack 
in the way I had done. My prompt action in pointing the rifle 
upwards had possibly saved my life, and in stopping her spring, 
or in turning to get away, the tigress had dislodged the earth 
from the top of the bank. 

The bank was too steep for scrambling, and the only way 
of getting up was to take it at a run. Going up the watercourse 
a short distance I sprinted down, took the pool in my stride, 
and got far enough up the other side to grasp a bush and pull 
myself on to the bank. A bed of Strobilanthes, the bent stalks 
of which were slowly regaining their upright position, showed 
where, and how recently, the tigress had passed, and a little 
further on under an overhanging rock I found where she had 
left her kill when she came to have a look at me. 

Her tracks now as she carried away the girl led into a 
wilderness of rocks, some acres in extent, where the going was 
both difficult and dangerous. The cracks and chasms between 
the rocks were masked with ferns and blackberry vines, and a 
false step, which might easily have resulted in a broken limb, 
would have been fatal. Progress under these conditions was of 

The Chnmpawat Man-eater 19 

necessity slow, and the tigress was taking advantage of it tci 
continue her meal. A dozen times I found where she had rested; 
and after each of these rests the blood trail became more distinct. 

This was her four hundred and thirty-sixth human kill and 
she was qulfe' accustomed to being disturbed at her meals by 
rescue parties, but this, I think, was the first time she had been 
followed up so persistently and she now began to show her 
resentment by growling. To appreciate a tiger's growl to the 
full it is necessary to be situated as I then was rocks all round 
with dense vegetation between, and the imperative necessity of 
testing each footstep to avoid falling headlong into unseen 
chasms and caves. 

I cannot expect you who read this at your fireside to 
appreciate my feelings at the time. The sound of the growling 
and the expectation of an attack terrified me at the same time 
as it gave me hope. If the tigress lost her temper sufficiently 
to launch an attack, it would not only give me an opportunity 
of accomplishing the object for which I had come, but it would 
enable me to get even with her for all the pain and suffering 
she had caused. 

The growling, however, was only a gesture, and when she 
found that instead of shooing me off it was bringing me faster 
on her heels, she abandoned it. 

I had now been on her track for over four hours. Though 
I had repeatedly seen the undergrowth moving I had not seen 
so much as a hair of her hide, and. a glance at the shadows 
climbing up the opposite hillside warned me it was time to 
retrace my steps if I was to reach the village before dark. 

The late owner of the severed leg was a Hindu, and some 
portion of her would be needed for the cremation, so as I 
passed the pool I dug a hole in the bank and buried the leg 
where it would be safe from the tigress, and could be found 
when wanted. 

My companion on the rock was very relieved to see me. 

20 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

My long absence, and the growling he had heard, had con- 
vinced him that the tigress had secured another kill and his 
difficulty, as he quite frankly admitted, was how he was going 
to get back to the village alone. 

I thought when we were climbing down the watercourse 
that I knew of no more dangerous proceeding than walking in 
front of a nervous man carrying a loaded gun, but I changed 
my opinion when on walking behind him he slipped and fell, 
and I saw where the muzzle of his gun a converted .450 with- 
out a safety catch was pointing. Since that day except when 
accompanied by Ibbotson I have made it a hard and fast rule 
to go alone when hunting man-eaters, for if one's companion 
is unarmed it is difficult to protect him, and if he is armed, 
it is even more difficult to protect oneself. 

Arrived at the crest of the hill, where the man had hidden 
his boots, I sat down to have a smoke and think out my plans 
for the morrow. 

The tigress would finish what was left of the kill during 
the night, and would to a certainty lie up among the rocks 
next day. 

On the ground she was on there was very little hope of my 
being able to stalk her, and if I disturbed her without getting 
a shot, she would probably leave the locality and I should lose 
touch with her. A beat therefore was the only thing to do, 
provided I could raise sufficient men. 

I was sitting on the south edge of a great amphitheatre of 
hills, without a habitation of any kind in sight. A stream 
entering from the west had fretted its way down, cutting a deep 
valley right across the amphitheatre. To the east the stream 
had struck solid rock, and turning north had left the amphi- 
theatre by a narrow gorge. 

The hill in front of me, rising to a height of some two 
thousand feet, was clothed in short grass with a pine tree dotted 
here and there, and the hill to the east was too precipitous for 

The Champawat Man-eater 2i 

anything but a ghooral to negotiate. If I could collect sufficient 
men to man the entire length of the ridge from the stream to 
the precipitous hill, and get them to stir up the tigress, her most 
natural line of retreat would be through the narrow gorge. 

Admittedly a very difficult beat, for the steep hillside facing 
north, on which I had left the tigress, was densely wooded and 
roughly three-quarters of a mile long and half-a-mile wide; 
however, if I could get the beaters to carry out instructions, 
there was a reasonable chance of my getting a shot. 

The Tahsildar was waiting for me at the village. I explained 
the position to him, and asked him to take immediate steps to 
collect as many men as he could, and to meet me at the tree 
where the girl had been killed at ten o'clock the following 
morning. Promising to do his best, he left for Champawat, 
while I climbed the hill to the bungalow. 

I was up at crack of dawn next morning, and after a sub- 
stantial meal told my men to pack up and wait for me at 
Champawat, and went down to have another look at the ground 
I intended beating. I could find nothing wrong with the plans 
I had made, and an hour before my time I was at the spot 
where I had asked the Tahsildar to meet me. 

That he would have a hard time in collecting the men I 
had no doubt, for the fear of the man-eater had sunk deep into 
the countryside and more than mild persuasion would be needed 
to make the men leave the shelter of their homes. At ten 
o'clock the Tahsildar and one man turned up, and thereafter 
the men came in twos, and threes, and tens, until by midday 
two hundred and ninety-eight had collected. 

The Tahsildar had let it be known that he would turn a 
blind eye towards all unlicensed fire-arms, and further that he 
would provide ammunition where required; and the weapons 
that were produced that day would have stocked a museum. 

When the men were assembled and had received the ammu- 
nition they needed I took them to the brow of the hill where 

22 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

the girl's skirt was lying, and pointing to a pine tree on the 
opposite hill that had been struck by lightning and stripped 
of bark, I told them to line themselves up along the ridge and, 
when they saw me wave a handkerchief from under the pine, 
those of them who were armed were to fire off their pieces, 
while the others beat drums, shouted, and rolled down rocks, 
and that no one was on any account to leave the ridge until 
I returned and personally collected him. When I was assured 
that all present had heard and understood my instructions, I 
set off with the Tahsildar, who said he would be safer with 
me than with the beaters whose guns would probably burst and 
cause many casualties. 

Making a wide detour I crossed the upper end of the valley, 
gained the opposite hill, and made my way down to the blasted 
pine. From here the hill went steeply down and the Tahsildar, 
who had on a thin pair of patent leather shoes, said it was 
impossible for him to go any further. While he was removing 
his inadequate foot-gear to ease his blisters, the men on the 
ridge, thinking I had forgotten to give the pre-arranged signal, 
fired off their guns and set up a great shout. I was still a 
hundred and fifty yards from the gorge, and that I did not 
break my neck a dozen times in covering this distance was due 
to my having been brought up on the hills, and being in 
consequence as sure-footed as a goat. 

As I ran down the hill I noticed that there was a patch of 
green grass near the mouth of the gorge, and as there was no 
time to look round for a better place, I sat down in the grass, 
with my back to the hill down which I had just come. The 
grass was about two feet high and hid half my body, and if 
I kept perfectly still there was a good chance of my not being 
seen. Facing me was the hill that was being beaten, and the 
gorge that I hoped the tigress would make for was behind my 
left shoulder. 

Pandemonium had broken loose on the ridge. Added to 

The Champawat Man-eater 23 

the fusillade of guns was the wild beating of drums and the 
shouting of hundreds of men, and when the din was at its worst 
I caught sight of the tigress bounding down a grassy slope 
between two ravines to my right front, and about three hundred 
yards away. She had only gone a short distance when the 
Tahsildar from his position under the pine let off both barrels 
of his short-gun. On hearing the shots the tigress whipped 
round and went straight back the way she had come, and as 
she disappeared into thick cover I threw up my rifle and sent 
a despairing bullet after her. 

The men on the ridge, hearing the three shots, not un- 
naturally concluded that the tigress had been killed. They 
emptied all their guns and gave a final yell, and I was holding 
my breath and listening for the screams that would herald the 
tigress's arrival on the ridge, when she suddenly broke cover 
to my left front and, taking the stream at a bound, came straight 
for the gorge. The .500 modified cordite rifle, sighted at sea 
level, shot high at this altitude, and when the tigress stopped 
dead I thought the bullet had gone over her back, and that 
she had pulled up on finding her retreat cut off; as a matter 
of fact I had hit her all right, but a little far back. Lowering 
her head, she half turned towards me, giving me a beautiful 
shot at the point of her shoulder at a range of less than thirty 
yards. She flinched at this second shot but continued, with 
her ears laid flat and bared teeth, to stand her ground, while 
I sat with rifle to shoulder trying to think what it would be 
best for me to do when she charged, for the rifle was empty 
and I had no more cartridges. Three cartridges were all that 
I had brought with me, for I never thought I should get a 
chance of firing more than two shots, and the third cartridge 
was for an emergency. 

Fortunately the wounded animal most unaccountably decided 
against a charge. Very slowly she turned, crossed the stream 
to her right, climbed over some fallen rocks, and found a 

24 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

narrow ledge that went diagonally up and across the face of 
the precipitous hill to where there was a great flat projecting 
rock. Where this rock joined the cliff a small bush had found 
root-hold, and going up to it the tigress started to strip its 
branches. Throwing caution to the winds I shouted to the 
Tahsildar to bring me his gun. A long reply was shouted back, 
the only word of which I caught was ' feet ': Laying down my 
rifle I took the hill at a run, grabbed the gun out of the Tahsil- 
dar 's hands and raced back. 

As I approached the stream the tigress left the bush and 
came out on the projecting rock towards me. When I was 
within twenty feet of her I raised the gun and found to my 
horror that there was a gap of about three-eighths of an inch 
between the barrels and the breech-block. The gun had not 
burst when both barrels 'had been fired, and would probably 
not burst now, but there was danger of being blinded by a 
blow back. However, the risk would have to be taken, and, 
aligning the great blob of a bead that did duty as a sight on 
the tigress's open mouth, I fired. Maybe I bobbed, or maybe 
the gun was not capable of throwing the cylindrical bullet accu- 
rately for twenty feet; anyway, the missile missed the tigress's 
mouth and struck her on the right paw, from where I removed 
it later with my finger-nails. Fortunately she was at her last 
gasp, and the tap on the foot was sufficient to make her lurch 
forward. She came to rest with her head projecting over the 
side of the rock. 

From the moment the tigress had broken cover in her 
attempt to get through the gorge I had forgotten the beaters, 
until I was suddenly reminded of their existence by hearing 
a shout, from a short distance up the hill, of 'There it is on 
the rock! Pull it down and let us hack it to bits.' I could 
not believe my ears when I heard 'hack it to bits', and yet I 
had heard aright, for others now had caught sight of the tigress 
and from all over the hillside the shout was being repeated. 

The Champawat Man-eater 25 

The ledge by which the wounded animal had gained the 
projecting rock was fortunately on the opposite side from the 
beaters, and was just wide enough to permit my shuffling along 
it sideways. As I reached the rock and stepped over the tigress 
hoping devoutly she was dead for I had not had time to 
carry out the usual test of pelting her with stones the men 
emerged from the forest and came running across the open, 
brandishing guns, axes, rusty swords, and spears. 

At the rock, which was twelve to fourteen feet in height, 
their advance was checked, for the outer face had been worn 
smooth by the stream when in spate and afforded no foothold 
even for their bare toes. The rage of the crowd on seeing 
their dread enemy was quite understandable, for there was not 
a man among them who had not suffered at her hands. One 
man, who appeared demented and was acting as ring-leader, 
was shouting over and over again as he ran to and fro brandish- 
ing a sword, ' This is the shaitan l that killed my wife and my 
two sons/ As happens with crowds, the excitement died down 
as suddenly as it had flared up, and to the credit of the man 
who had lost his wife and sons be it said that he was the first 
to lay down his weapon. He came near to the rock and said, 
' We were mad, sahib, when we saw our enemy, but the madness 
has now passed, and we ask you and the Tahsildar sahib to 
forgive us/ Extracting the unspent cartridge, I laid the gun 
across the tigress and hung down by my hands and was assisted 
to the ground. When I showed the men how I had gained 
the rock the dead animal was very gently lowered and carried 
to an open spot, where all could crowd round and look at her. 

When the tigress had stood on the rock looking down at 
me I had noticed that there was something wrong with her 
mouth, and on examining her now I found that the upper 
and lower canine teeth on the right side of her mouth were 
broken, the upper one in half, and the lower one right down 

* Devil. 

26 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

to the bone. This permanent injury to her teeth the result 
of a gun-shot wound had prevented her from killing her natural 
prey, and had been the cause of her becoming a man-eater. 

The men begged me not to skin the tigress there, and 
asked me to let them have her until nightfall to carry through 
their villages, saying that if their womenfolk and children did 
not see her with their own eyes, they would not believe that 
their dread enemy was dead. 

Two saplings were now cut and laid one on either side of 
the tigress, and with pugrees, waistbands and loincloths she was 
carefully and very securely lashed to them. When all was 
ready the saplings were manned and we moved to the foot of 
the precipitous hill; the men preferred to take the tigress up this 
hill, on the far side of which their villages lay, to going up the 
densely wooded hill which they had just beaten. Two human 
ropes were made by the simple expedient of the man behind 
taking a firm grip of the waistband, or other portion of clothing, 
of the man in front of him. When it was considered that the 
ropes were long and strong enough to stand the strain, they 
attached themselves to the saplings, and with men on either 
side to hold the feet of the bearers and give them foothold, the 
procession moved up the hill, looking for all the world like an 
army of ants carrying a beetle up the face of a wall. Behind 
the main army was a second and a smaller one the Tahsildar 
being carried up. Had the ropes broken at any stage of that 
thousand-foot climb, the casualties would have been appalling, 
but the rope did not break. The men gained the crest of the hill 
and set off eastwards, singing on their triumphal march, while 
the Tahsildar and I turned west and made for Champa wat. 

Our way lay along the ridge and once again I stood among 
the blackthorn bushes on the thorns of which long tresses of 
the girl's hair had caught, and for the last time looked down 
into the amphitheatre which had been the scene of our recent 

The Champawat Man-eater 27 

On the way down the hill the beaters had found the head 
of the unfortunate girl, and a thin column of smoke rising 
straight up into the still air from the mouth of the gorge showed 
where the relations were performing the last rites of the 
Champawat man-eater's last victim, on the very spot on which 
the man-eater had been shot. 

After dinner, while I was standing in the courtyard of the 
Tahsil, I saw a long procession of pine torches winding its way 
down the opposite hillside, and presently the chanting of a 
hill song by a great concourse of men was borne up on the 
still night air. An hour later, the tigress was laid down at 
my feet. 

It was difficult to skin the animal with so many people 
crowding round, and to curtail the job I cut the head and paws 
from the trunk and left them adhering to the skin, to be dealt 
with later. A police guard was then mounted over the carcass, 
and next day, when all the people of the countryside were 
assembled, the trunk, legs and tail of the tigress were cut up 
into small pieces and distributed. These pieces of flesh and 
bone were required for the lockets which hill children wear 
round their necks, and the addition of a piece of tiger to the 
other potent charms is credited with giving the wearer courage, 
as well as immunity from the attacks of wild animals. The 
fingers of the girl which the tigress had swallowed whole were 
sent to me in spirits by the Tahsildar, and were buried by me 
in the Naini Tal lake close to the Nandadevi temples. 

While I had been skinning the tigress the Tahsildar and his 
staff, assisted by the Headmen and greybeards of the surround- 
ing villages and merchants of the Champawat bazaar, had been 
busy drawing up a programme for a great feast and dance for 
the morrow, at which I was to preside. Round about midnight, 
when the last of the great throng of men had left with shouts 
of delight at being able to use roads and village paths that the 
man-eater had closed for four years, I had a final smoke with 

28 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

the Tahsildar, and telling him that I could not stay any longer 
and that he would have to take my place at the festivities, my 
men and I set off on our seventy-five-mile journey, with two 
days in hand to do it in. 

At sunrise I left my men and, with the tigress's skin strapped 
to the saddle of my horse, rode on ahead to put in a few hours 
in cleaning the skin at Dabidhura, where I intended spending 
the night. When passing the hut on the hill at Pali it occurred 
to me that it would be some little satisfaction to the dumb 
woman to know that her sister had been avenged, so leaving the 
horse to browse he had been bred near the snow-line and could 
eat anything from oak trees to nettles I climbed the hill to the 
hut, and spread out the skin with the head supported on a stone 
facing the door. The children of the house had been round- 
eyed spectators of these proceedings and, hearing me talking to 
them, their mother, who was inside cooking, came to the door. 

I am not going to hazard any theories about shock, and 
counter-shock, for I know nothing of these matters. All I know 
is that this woman, who was alleged to have been dumb a 
twelvemonth and who four days previously had made no at- 
tempt to answer any questions, was now running backwards and 
forwards from the hut to the road calling to her husband and the 
people in the village to come quickly and see what the sahib 
had brought. This sudden return of speech appeared greatly 
to mystify the children, who could not take their eyes off their 
mother's face. 

I rested in the village while a dish of tea was being prepared 
for me and told the people who thronged round how the man- 
eater had been killed. An hour later I continued my journey 
and for half a mile along my way I could hear the shouts of 
goodwill of the men of Pali. 

I had a very thrilling encounter with a leopard the following 
morning, which I only mention because it delayed my start 
from Dabidhura and put an extra strain on my small mount 

Robin 29 

and myself. Fortunately the little pony was as strong on his 
legs as he was tough inside, and by holding his tail on the 
up-grades, riding him on the flat, and running behind him on 
the down-grades, we covered the forty-five miles to Naini Tal 
between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

At a durbar held in Naini Tal a few months later Sir John 
Hewett, Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces, presented 
the Tahsildar of Champa wat with a gun, and the man who 
accompanied me when I was looking for the girl with a beautiful 
hunting-knife, for the help they had given me. Both weapons 
were suitably engraved and will be handed down as heirlooms 
in the respective families. 


I NEVER saw either of his parents. The Knight of the Broom 
I purchased him from said he was a spaniel, that his name 
was Pincha, and that his father was a 'keen gun dog*. This 
is all I can tell you about his pedigree. 

I did not want a pup, and it was quite by accident that I 
happened to be with a friend when the litter of seven was 
decanted from a very filthy basket for her inspection. Pincha 
was the smallest and the thinnest of the litter, and it was 
quite evident he had reached the last ditch in his fight for 
survival. Leaving his little less miserable brothers and sisters, 
he walked once round me, and then curled himself up between 
my big feet. When I picked him up and put him inside my 
coat it was a bitterly cold morning he tried to show his 
gratitude by licking my face, and I tried to show him I was 
not aware of his appalling stench. 

He was rising three months then, and I bought him for fifteen 
rupees. He is rising thirteen years now, and all the gold in 
India would not buy him. 

30 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

When I got him home and he had made his first acquain- 
tance with a square meal, warm water and soap, we scrapped 
his kennel name of Pincha and rechristened him Robin, in 
memory of a faithful old collie who had saved my young 
brother, aged four, and myself, aged six, from the attack of an 
infuriated she-bear. 

Robin responded to regular meals as parched land does to 
rain, and after he had been with us for a few weeks, acting on 
the principle that a boy's and a pup's training cannot be started 
too early, I took him out one morning, intending to get a little 
away from him and fire a shot or two to get him used to the 
sound of gunfire. 

At the lower end of our estate there are some dense thorn 
bushes, and while I was skirting round them a peafowl got 
up, and forgetting all about Robin, who was following at heel, 
I brought the bird fluttering down. It landed in the thorn 
bushes and Robin dashed in after it. The bushes were too thick 
and thorny for me to enter them, so I ran round to the far side 
where beyond the bushes was open ground, and beyond that 
again heavy tree and grass jungle which I knew the wounded 
bird would make for. The open ground was flooded with 
morning sunlight, and if I had been armed with a movie 
camera I should have had an opportunity of securing a unique 
picture. The peafowl, an old hen, with neck feathers stuck 
out at right angles, and one wing broken, was making for the 
tree jungle, while Robin, with stern to the ground, was hanging 
on to her tail and being dragged along. Running forward I 
very foolishly caught the bird by the neck and lifted it clear 
of the ground, whereon it promptly lashed out with both legs, 
and sent Robin heels-over-head. In a second he was up and on 
his feet again, and when I laid the dead bird down, he danced 
round it making little dabs alternately at its head and tail. The 
lesson was over for that morning, and as we returned home it 
would have been difficult to say which of us was the more 

Robin 31 

proud Robin, at bringing home his first bird, or I, at having 
picked a winner out of a filthy basket. The shooting season 
was now drawing to a close, and for the next few days Robin 
was not given anything larger than quail, doves and an occa- 
sional partridge to retrieve. 

We spent the summer on the hills, and on our annual migra- 
tion to the foothills in November, at the end of a long fifteen- 
mile march as we turned a sharp corner, one of a big troop 
of langurs jumped off the hillside and crossed the road a few 
inches in front of Robin's nose. Disregarding my whistle, Robin 
dashed down the khudside after the langur, which promptly 
sought safety in a tree. The ground was open with a few trees 
here and there, and after going steeply down for thirty or forty 
yards flattened out for a few yards, before going sharply down 
into the valley below. On the right-hand side of this flat ground 
there were a few bushes, with a deep channel scoured out by 
rain-water running through them. Robin had hardly entered 
these bushes when he was out again, and with ears laid back and 
tail tucked in was running for dear life, with an enormous leo- 
pard bounding after him and gaining on him at every bound. I 
was unarmed and all the assistance I could render was to ' Ho ' 
and ' Har ' at the full extent of my lungs. The men carrying M.'s 
dandy joined in lustily, the pandemonium reaching its climax 
when the hundred or more langurs added their alarm-calls in 
varying keys. For twenty-five or thirty yards the desperate and 
unequal race continued, and just as the leopard was within reach 
of Robin, it unaccountably swerved and disappeared into the 
valley, while Robin circled round a shoulder of the hill and 
rejoined us on the road. Two very useful lessons Robin learned 
from his hairbreadth escape, which he never in after-life forgot. 
First, that it was dangerous to chase langurs, and second that 
the alarm-call of a langur denoted the presence of a leopard. 

Robin resumed his training where it had been interrupted in 
spring, but it soon became apparent that his early neglect and 

32 Man-eaters of Kutnaon 

starvation had affected his heart, for he fainted now after the 
least exertion. 

There is nothing more disappointing, for a gun dog than to 
be teft at home when his master goes out, and as bird-shooting 
was now taboo for Robin, I started taking him with me when 
I went out after big game. He took to this new form of sport 
as readily as a duck takes to water, and from then on has 
accompanied me whenever I have been out with a rifle. 

The .method we employ is to go out early in the morning, 
pick up the tracks of a leopard or tiger, and follow them. When 
the pug marks can be seen, I do the tracking, and when the 
animal we are after takes to the jungle, Robin does the tracking. 
In this way we have on occasions followed an animal for miles 
before coming up with it. 

When shooting on foo't, it is very much easier to kill an 
animal outright than when shooting down on it from a machan, 
or from the back of an elephant. For one thing, when wounded 
animals have to be followed up on foot, chance shots are not 
indulged in, and for another, the vital parts are more accessible 
when shooting on the same level as the animal than when shoot- 
ing down on it. However, even after exercising the greatest care 
over the shot, I have sometimes only wounded leopards and 
tigers, who have rampaged round before being quietened by 
a second or third shot, and only once during all the years that 
we have shot together has Robin left me in a tight corner. 
When he rejoined me after his brief absence that day, we decided 
that the incident was closed and would never be referred to 
again, but we are older now and possibly less sensitive, anyway 
Robin who has exceeded the canine equivalent of three-score- 
years-and-ten, and who , lies at my feet as I write, on a bed he 
will never again leave has with a smile from his wise brown 
eyes and a wag of his small stump of a tail given me permission 
to go ahead and tell you the story. 

We did not see the leopard until it stepped clear of the 



'An area of i ,r )( x> square miles oi mountain and vale 
where the snow lies deep during winter, and the 

valleys are seoiehing hot in summer ' Sec p. 41 

See p. 29 


See p. 

Robin 3t 

thick undergrowth and, coming to a stand, looked back'.OV^I 
its left shoulder. 

He was an outsized male with a beautiful dark glossy coat, 
the rosettes on his skin standing out like clear-cut designs on 
a rich velvet ground. I had an unhurried shot with an accurate 
rifle at his right shoulder, at the short range of fifteen yards. 
By how little I missed his heart makes no matter, and while 
the bullet was kicking up the dust fifty yards away he was 
high in the air, and, turning a somersault, landed in the thick 
undergrowth he had a minute before left. For twenty, forty, 
fifty yards we heard him crashing through the cover, and then 
the sound ceased as abruptly as it had begun. This sudden 
cessation of sound could be accounted for in two ways: either 
the leopard had collapsed and died in his tracks, or fifty yards 
away he had reached open ground. 

We had walked 'far that day; the sun was near setting and! 
we were still four miles from home. This part of the jungle 
was not frequented by man, and there was not one chance in 
a million of anyone passing that way by night, and last, and 
the best reason of all for leaving the leopard, M. was unaaroed 
and could neither be left alone nor taken along to follow .up 
the wounded animal so we turned to the north and made for 
home. There was no need for me to mark the spot, for I had 
walked through these jungles by day and often by night for 
near on half a century, and could have found my way blind-* 
fold to any part of them. 

Night had only just given place to day the following morn- 
ing when Robin who had not been with us the previous 
evening and I arrived at the spot I had fired, from. Very 
warily Robin, who was leading, examined the ground where 
the leopard had stood, and then raising his head and snuffing 
the air he advanced to the edge of the undergrowth, where 
the leopard in falling had left great splashes of blood. There 
was no need for me to examine the blood to determine the 

34 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

position of the wound, for at the short range I had fired at I 
had seen the bullet strike, And the spurt of dust on the far side 
was proof that the bullet had gone right through the leopard's 

It might be necessary later on to follow up the blood trail > 
but just at present a little rest after our four-mile walk in the 
dark would do no harm, and might on the other hand prove 
of great value to us. The sun was near rising, and at that 
early hour of the morning all the jungle folk were on the move, 
and it would be advisable to hear what they had to say on the 
subject of the wounded animal before going further. 

Under a nearby tree I found a diy spot to which the saturat- 
ing dew had not penetrated, and with Robin stretched out at my 
feet had finished my cigarette when a chital hind, and then a 
second and a third, started calling some sixty yards to our left 
front. Robin sat up and slowly turning his head looked at me, 
and, on catching my eye, as slowly turned back in the direction 
of the calling deer. He had travelled far along the road of 
experience since that day he had first heard the alarm-call of 
a langur, and he knew now as did every bird and animal within 
hearing that the chital were warning the jungle folk of the 
presence of a leopard. 

From the manner in which the chital were calling it was 
evident that the leopard was in full view of them. A little more 
patience and they would tell us if he was alive. They had 
been calling for about five minutes when suddenly, and all 
together, they called once and again, and then settled down to 
their regular call; the leopard was alive and had moved, and 
was now quiet again. All that we needed to know now was 
the position of the leopard, and this information we could get 
by stalking the chital. 

Moving down-wind for fifty yards we entered the thick 
undergrowth, and started to stalk the deer not a difficult task, 
for Robin can move through any jungle as silently as a cat, 

Robin gfi 

and long practice has taught me where to place -my feet. 
The chital were not visible until we wer$ within a few feet 
of them. They were standing in the open and looking towards 
the north in the exact direction, as far as I was able to judge, 
in which the crashing sound of the evening before had 

Up to this point the chital had been of great help to us; they 
had told us the leopard was lying out in the open and that it 
was alive, and they had now given us the direction. It had 
taken us the best part of an hour to acquire this information, 
and if the chital now caught sight of us and warned the jungle 
folk of our presence, they would in one second undo the good 
they had so far done. I was debating whether it would be 
better to retrace our steps and work down below the calling deer 
and try to get a shot from behind them, or move them from our 
vicinity by giving the call of a leopard, when one of the hinds 
turned her head and looked straight into my face. Next second, 
with a cry of ' Ware man ', they dashed away at top speed. I 
had only about five yards to cover to reach the open ground, 
but quick as I was the leopard was quicker, and I was only in 
time to see his hind quarters and tail disappearing behind some 
bushes. The chital had very effectively spoilt my chance of a 
shot, and the leopard would now have to be located and marked 
down all over again this time by Robin. 

I stood on the open ground for some minutes, to give the 
leopard time to settle down and the scent he had left in his 
passage to blow past us, and then took Robin due west across 
the track of the wind, which was blowing from the north. 
We had gone about sixty or seventy yards when Robin, who 
was leading, stopped and turned to face into the wind. Robin 
is mute in the jungles, and has a wonderful control over his 
nerves. There is one nerve, however, running down the back 
of his hind legs, which he cannot control when he is looking at 
a leopard, or when the scent of a leopard is warm and strong. 

S6 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

This nerve was now twitching, and agitating the long hair on 
the upper part of his hind legs. 

A very violent cyclonic storm had struck this part of the 
forest the previous summer, uprooting a number of trees; it 
was towards one of these fallen trees, forty yards from where 
we were standing, that Robin was now looking. The branches 
were towards us, and on either side of the trunk there were 
light bushes and a few scattered tufts of short grass. 

At any other time Robin and I would have made straight 
for our quarry; but on this occasion a little extra caution was 
advisable. Not only were we dealing with an animal who 
when wounded knows no fear, but in addition we were deal- 
ing with a leopard who had had fifteen hours in which to nurse 
his grievance against man, and who could in consequence be 
counted on to have all his fighting instincts thoroughly aroused. 

When leaving home that morning I had picked up the 
.275 rifle I had used the previous evening. A good rifle to 
carry when miles have to be covered, but not the weapon one 
would select to deal with a wounded leopard; so instead of a 
direct approach, I picked a line that would take us fifteen yards 
from, and parallel to, the fallen tree. Step by step, Robin lead- 
ing, we moved along this line, and had passed the branches and 
were opposite the trunk when Robin stopped. Taking the 
direction from him, I presently saw what had attracted his 
attention the tip of the leopard's tail slowly raised, and as 
slowly lowered the warning a leopard invariably gives before 
charging. Pivoting to the right on my heels, I had just got 
the rifle to my shoulder when the leopard burst through the 
intervening bushes and sprang at us. My bullet, fired more 
with the object of deflecting him than with any hope of killing 
or even hitting him, passed under his belly and went through 
the fleshy part of his left thigh. The crack of the rifle, more 
than the wound, had the effect of deflecting the leopard suffi- 
ciently to make him pass my right shoulder without touching 

Robin 37 

me, and before I could get in another shot, he disappeared into 
the bushes beyond. 

Robin had not moved from my feet, and together we now 
examined the ground the leopard had passed over. Blood we 
found in plenty, but whether it had come from the old wounds 
torn open by the leopard's violent exertions, or from my recent 
shot, it was impossible to say. Anyway it made no difference 
to Robin, who without a moment's hesitation took up the trail. 
After going through some very heavy cover we came on knee- 
high undergrowth, and had proceeded about a couple of hundred 
yards when I saw the leopard get up in front of us, and before 
I could get the rifle to bear on him, he disappeared under a 
lantana bush. This bush with its branches resting on the 
ground was as big as a cottage tent, and in addition to afford- 
ing the leopard ideal cover gave him all the advantages for 
launching his next attack. 

Robin and I had come very well out of our morning's 
adventure and it would have been foolish now, armed as I 
was, to pursue the leopard further, so without more ado we 
turned about and made for home. 

Next morning we were back on the ground. From a very 
early hour Robin had been agitating to make a start, and, 
ignoring all the interesting smells the jungle holds in the morn- 
ing, would have made me do the four miles at a run had that 
been possible. 

I had armed myself with a 450/400, and was in consequence 
feeling much happier than I had done the previous day. When 
we were several hundred yards from the lantana bush, I made 
Robin slow down and advance cautiously, for it is never safe 
to assume that a wounded animal will be found where it has 
been left hours previously, as the following^regrettable incident 

A sportsman of my acquaintance wounded a tiger one after- 
noon, and followed the blood trail for several miles along a 

38 Man-eaters of Kumaon- 

valley. Next morning, accompanied by a number of men, one 
of whom was carrying his empty rifle and leading the way, 
he set out intending to take up the tracking where he had left 
off. His way led over the previous day's blood trail, and while 
still a mile from the spot where the tiger had been left, the 
leading man, who incidentally was the local shikari, walked 
on to the wounded tiger and was killed. The rest of the party 
escaped, some by climbing trees and others by showing a clean 
pair of heels. 

I had marked the exact position of the lantana bush, and 
now took Robin along a line that would pass a few yards on 
the lee side of it. Robin knew all that was worth knowing 
about this method of locating the position of an animal by 
cutting across the wind, and we had only gone a short dis- 
tance, and were still a hundred yards from the bush, when he 
stopped, turned and faced into the wind, and communicated 
to me that he could smell the leopard. As on the previous day, 
he was facing a fallen tree which was lying along the edge of, 
and parallel to, the thick undergrowth through which we had 
followed the leopard to the lantana bush after he had charged 
us. On our side of the tree the ground was open, but on the 
far side there was a dense growth of waist-high basonta bushes. 
Having signalled to Robin to carry on along our original line, 
we went past the lantana bush, in which he showed no interest, 
to a channel washed out by rain-water. Here, removing my 
coat, I filled it with as many stones as the stitches would hold, 
and with this improvised sack slung over my shoulder returned 
to the open ground near the tree. 

Resuming my coat, and holding the rifle ready for instant 
use, I took up a position fifteen yards from the tree and started 
throwing the stones, first on to the tree and then into the bushes 
on the far side of it with the object of making the leopard 
assuming he was still alive charge on to the open ground where 
I could deal with him. When all my ammunition was exhausted 

Robin, 89 

I coughed, clapped my hands, and shouted, and neither during 
the bombardment nor after it did the leopard move or make 
any sound to indicate that he was alive. 

I should now have been justified in walking straight up to 
the tree and looking on the far side of it, but remembering an 
old jungle saying, ' It is never safe to assume that a leopard is 
dead until it has been skinned ' , I set out to circle round the 
tree, intending to reduce the size of the circle until I could 
see right under the branches and along the whole length of the 
trunk. I made the radius of the first circle about twenty-five 
yards, and had gone two-thirds of the way round when Robin 
stopped. As I looked down to see what had attracted his 
attention, there was a succession of deep-throated, angry grunts, 
and the leopard made straight for us. All I could see was the 
undergrowth being violently agitated 'in a direct line towards 
us, and I only just had time to swing half right and bring the 
rifle up, when the head and shoulders of the leopard appeared 
out of the bushes a few feet away. 

The leopard's spring and my shot were simultaneous, and 
side-stepping to the left and leaning back as far as I could I fired 
the second barrel from my hip into his side as he passed me. 

When a wounded animal, be he leopard or tiger, makes a 
headlong charge and fails to contact he invariably carries on 
and does not return to the attack until he is again disturbed. 

I had side-stepped to the left to avoid crushing Robin, and 
when I looked down for him now, he was nowhere to be seen. 
For the first time in all the years we had hunted together we 
had parted company in a tight corner, and he was now probably 
trying to find his way home, with very little chance of being 
able to avoid the many dangers that lay before him in the 
intervening four miles of jungle. Added to the natural dangers 
he would have to face in a jungle with which, owing to its 
remoteness from home, he was not familiar, was the weak 
condition of his heart. And it was therefore with very great 

4Q Man-eaters of Kumaon 

misgivings that I turned about to go in search of him; as I did 
so, I caught sight of his head projecting from behind a tree 
trunk at the edge of a small clearing only a hundred yards away. 
When I raised my hand and beckoned, he disappeared into the 
undergrowth, but a little later, with drooped eyes and drooping 
ears, he crept silently to my feet. Laying down the rifle 1 
picked him up in my arms and, for the second time in his life, 
he licked my face telling me as he did so, with little throaty 
sounds, how glad he was to find me unhurt, and how terribly 
ashamed he was of himself for having parted company from me. 

Our reactions to the sudden and quite unexpected danger 
that had confronted us were typical of how a canine and a 
human being act in an emergency, when the danger that threa- 
tens is heard, and not seen. In Robin's case it had impelled 
him to seek safety in sil'ent and rapid retreat; whereas in my 
case it had the effect of gluing my feet to the ground and 
making retreat rapid or otherwise impossible. 

When I had satisfied Robin that he was not to blame for 
our temporary separation, and his small body had stopped 
trembling, I put him down and together we walked up to where 
the leopard, who had put up such a game fight, and had so 
nearly won the last round, was lying dead. 

I have told you the story, and while I have been telling it 
Robin the biggest-hearted and the most faithful friend man 
ever had has gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds, where I 
know I shall find him waiting for me. 


THE map of Eastern Kumaon that hangs on the wall before 
me is marked with a number of crosses, and below each 
cross is a date. These crosses indicate the locality, and the 
date, of the officially recorded human victims of the man-eating 
tiger of Chowgarh. There are sixty-four crosses on the map. 
I do not claim this as being a correct tally, for the map was 
posted up by me for two years and during this period all kills 
were not reported to me; further, victims who were only 
mauled, and who died subsequently, have not been awarded a 
cross and a date. 

The first cross is dated 15 December 1925, and the last, 
21 March 1930. The distance between the extreme crosses, 
north to south, is fifty miles, and east to west, thirty miles, an 
area of 1,500 square miles of mountain and vale where the snow 
lies deep during winter, and the valleys are scorching hot in 
summer. Over this area the Chowgarh tiger had established 
a reign of terror. Villages of varying size, some with a popula- 
tion of a hundred or more, and others with only a small family 
or two, are scattered throughout the area. Footpaths, beaten 
hard by bare feet, connect the villages. Some of these paths 
pass through thick forests, and when a man-eater renders their 
passage dangerous inter-village communication is carried on by 
shouting. Standing on a commanding point, maybe a big rock 
or the roof of a house, a man cooees to attract the attention 
of the people in a neighbouring village, and when the cooee is 
answered, the message is shouted across in a high-pitched voice. 
From village to village the message is tossed, and is broadcast 
throughout large areas in an incredibly short space of time. 

It was at a District Conference in February 1929 that I found 
myself committed to have a try for this tiger. There were at 
that time three man-eaters in the Kumaon Division, and as the 


Village Number 







CHAMOLI ...... 








LOHAR ...... 








TANDA ...... 




JHANGAON ...... 




KALA AGAR ...... 






KUNDAL ...... 


BABYAR ...... 










PAKHARI ...... 









1926 15 KILLED 

1927 9 KILLED 

1928 14 KILLED 

1929 17 KILLED 

1930 9 KILLED 


The Chowgarh Tigers 43. 

Chowgarh tiger had done most damage I promised to go in 
pursuit of it first. 

The map with the crosses and dates, furnished to me by 
Government, showed that the man-eater was most active in the 
villages on the north and east face of the Kala Agar ridge. This 
ridge, some forty miles in length, rises to a height of 8,500 feet 
and is thickly wooded along the crest. A forest road runs along 
the north face of the ridge, in some places passing for miles 
through dense forests of oak and rhododendron, and in others 
forming a boundary between the forest and cultivated land. 
In one place the road forms a loop, and in this loop is situated 
the Kala Agar Forest Bungalow. This bungalow was my 
objective, and after a four days' march, culminating in a stiff 
climb of 4,000 feet, I arrived at it one evening in April 1929. 
The last human victim in this area was a young man of twenty- 
two, who had been killed while out grazing cattle, and while 
I was having breakfast, the morning after my arrival, the grand- 
mother of the young man came to see me. 

She informed me that the man-eater had, without any pro- 
vocation, killed the only relative she had in the world. After 
giving me her grandson's history from the day he was born, 
and extolling his virtues, she pressed me to accept her three 
milch buffaloes to use as bait for the tiger, saying that if I 
killed the tiger with the help of her buffaloes she would have 
the satisfaction of feeling that she had assisted in avenging her 
grandson. These full-grown animals were of no use to me, 
but knowing that refusal to accept them would give offence, I 
thanked the old lady and assured her I would draw on her 
for bait as soon as I had used up the four young male buffaloes 
I had brought with me from Naini Tal. The Headmen of 
nearby villages had now assembled, and from them I learned 
that the tiger had last been seen ten days previously in a village 
twenty miles away, on the eastern slope of the ridge, where 
it had killed and eaten a man and his wife. 

44 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

A trail ten days old was not worth following up, and after 
a long discussion with the Headmen I decided to make for 
Dalkania village on the eastern side of the ridge. Dalkania 
is ten miles from Kala Agar, and about the same distance from 
the village where the man and his wife had been killed. 

From the number of crosses Dalkania and the villages adjoin- 
ing it had earned, it appeared that the tiger had its headquarters 
in the vicinity of these villages. 

After breakfast next morning I left Kala Agar and followed 
the forest road, which I was informed would take me to the 
end of the ridge, where I should have to leave the road and take 
a path two miles downhill to Dalkania. This road, running 
right to the end of the ridge through dense forest was very 
little used, and, examining it for tracks as I went along, I 
arrived at the point where the path took off at about 2 p.m. 
Here I met a number of men from Dalkania. They had heard 
via the cooee method of communication of my intention of 
camping at their village and had come up to the ridge to inform 
me that the tiger had that morning attacked a party of women, 
while they had been cutting their crops in a village ten miles 
to the north of Dalkania. 

The men carrying my camp equipment had done eight miles 
and were quite willing to carry on, but on learning from the 
villagers that the path to this village, ten miles away, was very 
rough and ran through dense forest I decided to send my men 
with the villagers to Dalkania, and visit the scene of the tiger's 
attack alone. My servant immediately set about preparing a 
substantial meal for me, and at 3 p.m., having fortified myself, 
I set out on my ten-mile walk. Ten miles under favourable 
conditions is a comfortable two-and-a-half hours 1 walk, but here 
the conditions were anything but favourable. The track run- 
ning along the east face of the hill wound in and out through 
deep ravines and was bordered alternately by rocks, dense 
undergrowth, and trees; and when every obstruction capable of 

The Chowgarh Tigers 45 

concealing sudden death, in the form of a hungry man-eater, 
had to be approached with caution, progress was of necessity 
slow. I was still several miles from my objective when the 
declining day warned me it was time to call a halt. 

In any other area, sleeping under the stars on a bed of dry 
leaves would have ensured a restful night, but here, to sleep 
on the ground would have been to court death in a very un- 
pleasant form. Long practice in selecting a suitable tree, and 
the ability to dispose myself comfortably in it, has made sleep- 
ing up aloft a simple matter. On this occasion I selected an 
oak tree, and, with the rifle tied securely to a branch, had been 
asleep for some hours when I was awakened by the rustling of 
several animals under the tree. The sound moved on, and 
presently I heard the scraping of claws on bark and realized 
that a family of bears were climbing sofne karphal L trees I had 
noticed growing a little way down the hillside. Bears are very 
quarrelsome when feeding, and sleep was impossible until they 
had eaten their fill and moved on. 

The sun had been up a couple of hours when I arrived at 
the village, which consisted of two huts and a cattle-shed, in a 
clearing of five acres surrounded by forest. The small com- 
munity were in a state of terror and were overjoyed to see me. 
The wheatfield, a few yards from the huts, where the tiger, 
with belly to ground, had been detected only just in time, 
stalking the three women cutting the crop, was eagerly pointed 
out to me. The man who had seen the tiger, and given the 
alarm, told me the tiger had retreated into the jungle, where 
it had been joined by a second tiger, and that the two animals 
had gone down the hillside into the valley below. The occupants 
of the two huts had had no sleep, for the tigers, baulked of their 

1 Karphal is found on our hills at an elevation of 6,000 feet. The 
tree grows to a height of about forty feet and produces a small red and 
very sweet berry, which is greatly fancied by both human beings and 

46 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

prey, had called at short intervals throughout the night, and had 
only ceased calling a little before my arrival. This statement, that 
there were two tigers, confirmed the reports I had already re- 
ceived that the man-eater was accompanied by a full-grown cub. 

Our hill folk are very hospitable, and when the villagers 
learned that I had spent the night in the jungle, and that my 
camp was at Dalkania, they offered to prepare a meal for me. 
This I knew would strain the resources of the small community, 
so I asked for a dish of tea, but as there was no tea in the 
village I was given a drink of fresh milk sweetened to excess 
with jaggery, a very satisfying and not unpleasant drink when 
one gets used to it. At the request of my hosts I mounted 
guard while the remaining portion of the wheat crop was cut; 
and at midday, taking the good wishes of the people with me, 
I went down into the valley in the direction in which the tigers 
had been heard calling. 

The valley, starting from the watershed of the three rivers 
Ladhya, Nandhour and Eastern Goula, runs south-west for 
twenty miles and is densely wooded. Tracking was impossible, 
and my only hope of seeing the tigers was to attract them to 
myself, or helped by the jungle folk to stalk them. 

To those of you who may be inclined to indulge in the 
sport of man-eater hunting on foot, it will be of interest to 
know that the birds and animals of the jungle, and the four 
winds of heaven, play a very important part in this form of 
sport. This is not the place to give the names of the jungle 
folk on whose alarm-calls the sportsman depends, to a great 
extent, for his safety and knowledge of his quarry's movements; 
for in a country in which a walk up or down hill of three or 
four miles might mean a difference in altitude of as many 
thousand feet the variation in fauna, in a well-stocked area, is 
considerable. The wind, however, at all altitudes, remains a con- 
stant factor, and a few words relevant to its importance in con- 
nexion with man-eater hunting on foot will not be out of place. 

The Chowgarh Tigers 47 

Tigers do not know that human beings have no sense of 
smell, and when a tiger becomes a man-eater it treats human 
beings exactly as it treats wild animals, that is, it approaches 
its intended victims up-wind, or lies up in wait for them 

The significance of this will be apparent when it is realized 
that, while the sportsman is trying to get a sight of the tiger, 
the tiger in all probability is trying to stalk the sportsman, or 
is lying up in wait for him. The contest, owing to the tiger's 
height, colouring, and ability to move without making a sound, 
would be very unequal were it not for the wind-factor operating 
in favour of the sportsman. 

In all cases where killing is done by stalking or stealth, the 
victim is approached from behind. This being so, it would be 
suicidal for the sportsman to enter dense jungle, in which he 
had every reason to believe a man-eater was lurking, unless he 
was capable of making full use of the currents of air. For 
example, assuming that the sportsman has to proceed, owing 
to th$ nature of the ground, in the direction from which the 
wind IB blowing, the danger would lie behind him, where he 
would be least able to deal with it, but by frequently tacking 
across the wind he could keep the danger alternately to right 
and left of him. In print this scheme may not appear very 
attractive, but in practice it works; and, short of walking back- 
wards, I do not know of a better or safer method of going 
up-wind through dense cover in which a hungry man-eater is 

By evening I had reached the upper end of the valley, with- 
out having seen the tigers and without having received any 
indication from bird or animal of their presence in the jungle. 
The only habitation then in sight was a cattle-shed, high up on 
the north side of the valley. 

I was careful in the selection of a tree on this second night, 
and was rewarded by an undisturbed night's rest. Not long 

48 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

after dark the tigers called, and a few minutes later two shots 
from a muzzle-loader came echoing down the valley, followed 
by a lot of shouting from the graziers at the cattle station. 
Thereafter the night was silent. 

By the afternoon of the following day I had exploded every 
bit of the valley, and I was making my way up a grassy slope 
intent on rejoining my men at Dalkania when I heard a long- 
drawn-out cooee from the direction of the cattle-shed. The 
cooee was repeated once and again, and on my sending back 
an answering call I saw a man climb on a projecting rock, and 
from this vantage point he shouted across the valley to ask if 
I was the sahib who had come from Naini Tal to shoot the 
man-eater. On my telling him I was that sahib, he informed 
me that his cattle had stampeded out of a ravine on my side 
of the valley at about midday, and that when he counted them 
on arrival at the cattle station he found that one a white cow 
was missing. 

He suspected that the cow had been killed by the tigers he 
had heard calling the previous night, half a mile to the west 
of where I was standing. Thanking him for his information, I 
set off to investigate the ravine. I had gone but a short distance 
along the edge of the ravine when I came on the tracks of the 
stampeding cattle, and following these tracks back I had no diffi- 
culty in finding the spot where the cow had been killed. After 
killing the cow the tigers had taken it down the steep hillside 
into the ravine. An approach along the drag was not advisable, 
so going down into the valley I made a wide detour, and 
approached the spot where I expected the kill to be from the 
other side of the ravine. This side of the ravine was less steep 
than the side down which the kill had been taken, and was deep 
in young bracken ideal ground for stalking over. Step by step, 
shadow, I made my way through the 

Bracken, which reached above my waist, and when I was some 
thirty yards from the bed of the ravine a movement in front of 

The Chowgarh Tigers 49 

me caught my eye. A white leg was suddenly thrust up into the 
air and violently agitated, and next moment there was a deep- 
throated growl the tigers were on the kill and tfere having a 
difference of opinion over some toothful morsel. 

For several minutes I stood perfectly still; the leg continued 
to be agitated, but the growl was not repeated. A nearer 
approach was not advisable, for even if I succeeded in covering 
the thirty yards without being seen, and managed to kill one 
of the tigers, the other, as likely as not, would blunder into me, 
and the ground I was on would give me no chance of defending 
myself. Twenty yards to my left front, and about the same 
distance from the tigers, there was an outcrop of rock, some 
ten to fifteen feet high. If I could reach this rock without 
being seen, I should in all probability get an easy shot at the 
tigers. Dropping on hands and knees, and pushing the rifle 
before me, I crawled through the bracken to the shelter of the 
rocks, paused a minute to regain my breath and make quite 
sure the rifle was loaded, and then climbed the rock. When 
my eyes were level with the top, I looked over, and saw the 
two tigers. 

One was eating at the hind quarters of the cow, while the 
other was lying near by licking its paws. Both tigers appeared 
to be about the same size, but the one that was licking its paws 
was several shades lighter than the other; and concluding that 
her light colouring was due to age and that she was the old 
man-eater, I aligned the sights very carefully on her, and fired. 
At my shot she reared up and fell backwards, while the other 
bounded down the ravine and was out of sight before I could 
press the second trigger. The tiger I had shot did not move 
again, and after pelting it with stones to make sure it was dead, 
I approached and met with a great disappointment; for a glance 
at close quarters showed me I had made a mistake and shot the 
cub a mistake that during the ensuing twelve months cost the 
district fifteen lives and incidentally nearly cost me my own life. 


50 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

Disappointment was to a certain extent mitigated by the 
thought that this young tigress, even if she had not actually 
killed any human beings herself, had probably assisted her old 
mother to kill (this assumption I later found to be correct), 
and in any case, having been nurtured on human fltsh, she 
could to salve my feelings be classed as a potential man- 

Skinning a tiger with assistance on open ground and with 
the requisite appliances is an easy job, but here the job was 
anything but easy, for I was alone, surrounded by thick cover, 
and my only appliance was a penknife; and though there was 
no actual danger to be apprehended from the man-eater, for 
tigers never kill in excess of their requirements, there was the 
uneasy feeling in the back of my mind that the tigress had 
returned and was watching my every movement. 

The sun was near setting before the arduous task was 
completed, and as I should have to spend yet another night 
in the jungles I decided to remain where I was. The tigress 
was a very old animal, as I could see from her pug marks, and 
having lived all her life in a district in which there are nearly 
as many fire-arms as men to use them, had nothing to learn 
about men and their ways. Even so, there was just a chance 
that she might return to the kill some time during the 
night, and remain in the vicinity until light came in the 

My selection of a tree was of necessity limited, and the one 
I spent that night in proved, by morning, to be the most un- 
comfortable tree I have ever spent twelve hours in. The tigress 
called at intervals throughout the night, and as morning drew 
near the calling became fainter and fainter, and eventually died 
away on the ridge above me. 

Cramped, and stiff, and hungry I had been without food 
for sixty-four hours and with my clothes clinging to me it 
had rained for an hour during the night I descended from the 

The Chowgarh Tigers 51 

tree when objects were clearly visible, and, after tying the 
tiger's skin up in a coat, set off for Dalkania. 

I have never weighed a tiger's skin when green, and if the 
skin, plus the head and paws, which I carried for fifteen miles 
that day weighed 40 pounds at the start, I would have taken my 
oath it weighed 200 pounds before I reached my destination. 

In a courtyard, flagged with great slabs of blue slate, and 
common to a dozen houses, I found my men in conference with 
a hundred or more villagers. My approach, along a yard- wide 
lane between two houses, had not been observed, and the wel- 
come I received when, bedraggled and covered with blood, I 
staggered into the circle of squatting men will live in my 
memory as long as memory lasts. 

My 40-lb. tent had been pitched in a field of stubble a 
hundred yards from the village, and I had hardly reached it 
before tea was laid out for me on a table improvised out of a 
couple of suitcases and planks borrowed from the village. I 
was told later by the villagers that my men, who had been 
with me for years and had accompanied me on several similar 
expeditions, refusing to believe that the man-eater had claimed 
me as a victim, had kept a kettle on the boil night and day 
in anticipation of my return, and, further, had stoutly opposed 
the Headmen of Dalkania and the adjoining villages sending a 
report to Almora and Naini Tal that I was missing. 

A hot bath, taken of necessity in the open and in full view 
of the village I was too dirty and too tired to care who saw 
me was followed by an ample dinner, and I was thinking of 
turning in for the night when a flash of lightning succeeded 
by a loud peal of thunder heralded the approach of a storm. 
Tent-pegs are of little use in a field, so long stakes were hurried- 
ly procured and securely driven into the ground, and to these 
stakes the tent-ropes were tied. For further safety all the avail- 
able ropes in camp were criss-crossed over the tent and lashed to 
the stakes. The storm of wind and rain lasted an hour and was 

52 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

one of the worst the little tent had ever weathered. Several of 
the guy-ropes were torn from the canvas, but the stakes and 
criss-cross ropes held. Most of my things were soaked through, 
and a little stream several inches deep was running from end to 
end of the tent; my bed, however, was comparatively dry, and 
by 10 o'clock my men were safely lodged behind locked doors 
in the house the villagers had placed at their disposal, while I, 
with a loaded rifle for company, settled down to a sleep which 
lasted for twelve hours. 

The following day was occupied in drying my kit and in 
cleaning and pegging out the tiger's skin. While these opera- 
tions were in progress the villagers, who had taken a holiday 
from their field work, crowded round to hear my experiences 
and to tell me theirs. Every man present had lost one or more 
relatives, and several bore tooth and claw marks, inflicted by 
the man-eater, which they will carry to their graves. My regret 
at having lost an opportunity of killing the man-eater was not 
endorsed by the assembled men. True, there had originally 
been only one man-eater; but, of recent months, rescue parties 
who had gone out to recover the remains of human victims had 
found two tigers on the kills, and only a fortnight previously 
a man and his wife had been killed simultaneously, which was 
proof sufficient for them that both tigers were established man- 

My tent was on a spur of the hill, and commanded an 
extensive view. Immediately below me was the valley of the 
Nandhour river, with a hill, devoid of any cultivation, rising 
to a height of 9,000 feet on the far side. As I sat on the edge 
of the terraced fields that evening with a pair of good bino- 
culars in my hand and the Government map spread out beside 
me, the villagers pointed out the exact positions where twenty 
human beings had been killed during the past three years. 
These kills were more or less evenly distributed over an area of 
forty square miles. 

The Chowgarh Tigers 53 

The forests in this area were open to grazing, and on the 
cattle-paths leading to them I decided to tie up my four young 

During the following ten days no news was received of the 
tigress, and I spent the time in visiting the buffaloes in the 
morning, searching the forests in the day, and tying out the 
buffaloes in the evening. On the eleventh day my hopes were 
raised by the report that a cow had been killed on a ravine on 
the hill above my tent. A visit to the kill, however, satisfied 
me the cow had been killed by an old leopard, whose pug marks 
I had repeatedly seen. The villagers complained that the leo- 
pard had for several years been taking heavy toll of their cattle 
and goats, so I decided to sit up for him. A shallow cave close 
to the dead cow gave me the cover I needed. I had not been 
long in the cave when I caught sight of the leopard coming 
down the opposite side of the ravine, and I was raising my rifle 
for a shot when I heard a very agitated voice from the direction 
of the village calling to me. 

There could be but one reason for this urgent call, and 
grabbing up my hat I dashed out of the cave, much to the 
consternation of the leopard, who first flattened himself out 
on the ground, and then with an angry woof went bounding 
back the way he had come, while I scrambled up my side of 
the ravine; and, arriving at the top, shouted to the man that 
I was coming, and set off at top speed to join him. 

The man had run all the way uphill from the village, and 
when he regained his breath he informed me that a woman 
had just been killed by the man-eater, about half a mile on the 
far side of the village. As we ran down the hillside I saw a 
crowd of people collected in the courtyard already alluded to. 
Once again my approach through the narrow lane was not 
observed, and looking over the heads of the assembled men, I 
saw a girl sitting on the ground. 

The upper part of her clothing had been torn off her young 

54 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

body, and with head thrown back and hands resting on the 
ground behind to support her, she sat without sound or move- 
ment, other than the heaving up and down of her breast, in 
the hollow of which the blood, that was flowing down her face 
and neck, was collecting in a sticky congealed mass. 

My presence was soon detected and a way made for me 
to approach the girl. While I was examining her wounds, a 
score of people, all talking at the same time, informed me 
that the attack on the girl had been made on comparatively 
open ground in full view of a number of people including the 
girl's husband; that alarmed at their combined shouts the tiger 
had left the girl and gone off in the direction of the forest; that 
leaving the girl for dead where she had fallen her companions 
had run back to the village to inform me; that subsequently 
the girl had regained consciousness and returned to the village; 
that she would without doubt die of her injuries in a few 
minutes; and that they would then carry her back to the scene 
of the attack, and I could sit up over the corpse and shoot 
the tiger. 

While this information was being imparted to me the girl's 
eyes never left my face and followed my every movement with 
the liquid pleading gaze of a wounded and frightened animal. 
Room to move unhampered, quiet to collect my wits, and clean 
air for the girl to breathe were necessary, and I am afraid the 
methods I employed to gain them were not as gentle as they 
might have been. When the last of the men had left in a 
hurry, I set the women, who up to now had remained in the 
background, to winning water and to tearing my shirt, which 
was comparatively clean and dry, into bandages, while one girl, 
who appeared to be on the point of getting hysterics, was bund- 
led off to scour the village for a pair of scissors. The water and 
bandages were ready before the girl I had sent for the scissors 
returned with the only pair, she said, the village could produce. 
They had been found in the house of a tailor, long since dead, 

The Chowgarh Tigers 55 

and had been used by the widow for digging up potatoes. The 
rusty blades, some eight inches long, could not be made to meet 
at any point, and after a vain attempt I decided to leave the 
thick coils of blood-caked hair alone. 

The major wounds consisted of two claw cuts, one starting 
between the eyes and extending right over the head and down 
to the nape of the neck, leaving the scalp hanging in two halves, 
and the other, starting near the first, running across the fore- 
head up to the right ear. In addition to these ugly gaping 
wounds there were a number of deep scratches on the right 
breast, right shoulder and neck, and one deep cut on the back 
of the right hand, evidently inflicted when the girl had put up 
her hand in a vain attempt to shield her head. 

A doctor friend whom I had once taken out tiger-shooting 
on foot had, on our return after an exciting morning, presented 
me with a two-ounce bottle of yellow fluid which he advised 
me to carry whenever I went out shooting. I had carried the 
bottle in the inner pocket of my shooting jacket for over a 
year and a portion of the fluid had evaporated; but the bottle 
was still three-parts full, and after I had washed the girl's 
head and body I knocked the neck off the bottle and poured 
the contents, to the last drop, into the wounds. This done I 
bandaged the head, to try to keep the scalp in position, and 
then picked up the girl and carried her to her home a single 
room combining living quarters, kitchen and nursery with the 
women following behind. 

Dependent from a rafter near the door was an open basket, 
the occupant of which was now clamouring to be fed. This 
was a complication with which I could not deal, so I left the 
solution of it to the assembled women. Ten days later, when 
on the eve of my departure I visited the girl for the last time, 
I found her sitting on the doorstep of her home with the baby 
asleep in her lap. 

Her wounds, except for a sore at the nape of her neck where 

56 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

the tiger's claws had sunk deepest into the flesh, were all healed, 
and when parting her great wealth of raven-black hair to show 
me where the scalp had made a perfect join, she said, with a 
smile, that she was very glad her young sister had quite by 
mistake borrowed the wrong pair of scissors from the tailor's 
widow (for a shorn head here is the sign of widowhood). If 
these lines should ever be read by my friend the doctor I 
should like him to know that the little bottle of yellow fluid he 
so thoughtfully provided for me, saved the life of a very brave 
young mother. 

While I had been attending to the girl my men had procured 
a goat. Following back the blood trail made by the girl I found 
the spot where the attack had taken place, and tying the goat 
to a bush I climbed into a stunted oak, the only tree in the 
vicinity, and prepared for an all-night vigil. Sleep, even in 
snatches, was not possible, for my seat was only a few feet from 
the ground, and the tigress was still without her dinner. How- 
ever, I neither saw nor heard anything throughout the night. 

On examining the ground in the morning I had not had 
time to do this the previous evening I found that the tigress, 
after attacking the girl, had gone up the valley for half a mile 
to where a cattle track crossed the Nandhour river. This track 
it had followed for two miles, to its junction with the forest 
road on the ridge above Dalkania. Here on the hard ground 
I lost the tracks. 

For two days the people in all the surrounding villages kept 
as close to their habitations as the want of sanitary conveniences 
permitted, and then on the third day news was brought to me 
by four runners that the man-eater had claimed a victim at 
Lohali, a village five miles to the south of Dalkania. The run- 
ners stated that the distance by the forest road was ten miles, 
but only five by a short cut by which they proposed taking me 
back. My preparations were soon made, and a little after mid- 
day I set off with my four guides. 

The Chowgarh Tigers 57 

A very stiff climb of two miles brought us to the crest of 
the long ridge south of Dalkania and in view of the valley three 
miles below, where the ' kill ' was reported to have taken place. 
My guides could give me no particulars. They lived in a small 
village a mile on the near side of Lohali, and at 10 a.m. a mes- 
sage had come to them in the manner already described that 
a woman of Lohali had been killed by the man-eater, and they 
were instructed to convey this information to me at Dalkania. 

The top of the hill on which we were standing was bare 
of trees, and, while I regained my breath and had a smoke, my 
companions pointed out the landmarks. Close to where we were 
resting, and under the shelter of a great rock, there was a 
small ruined hut, with a circular thorn enclosure near by. Ques- 
tioned about this hut, the men told me the following story. 
Four years previously a Bhutia (a mari from across the border) , 
who had all the winter been sending packages of gur, salt, and 
other commodities from the bazaars at the foothills into the 
interior of the district, had built the hut with the object of 
resting and fattening his flock of goats through the summer 
and rains, and getting them fit for the next winter's work. 
After a few weeks the goats wandered down the hill and 
damaged my informants' crops, and when they came up to 
lodge a protest, they found the hut empty, and the fierce sheep- 
dog these men invariably keep with them, to guard their camps 
at night, chained to an iron stake and dead. Foul play was 
suspected, and next day men were collected from adjoining 
villages and a search organized. Pointing to an oak tree scored 
by lightning and distant some four hundred yards, my infor- 
mants said that under it the remains of the man his skull and 
a few splinters of bone and his clothes had been found. This 
was the Chowgarh man-eater's first human victim. 

There was no way of descending the precipitous hill from 
where we were sitting, and the men informed me we should 
have to proceed half a mile along the ridge to where we should 

58 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

find a very steep and rough track which would take us straight 
down, past their village, to Lohali, which we could see in the 
valley below. We had covered about half the distance we had 
to go along the ridge, when all at once, and without being able 
to ascribe any reason for it, I felt we were being followed. 
Arguing with myself against this feeling was of no avail; there 
was only one man-eater in all this area and she had procured 
a kill three miles away which she was not likely to leave. 
However, the uneasy feeling persisted, and as we were now at 
the widest part of the grassy ridge I made the men sit down, 
instructing them not to move until I returned, and myself set 
out on a tour of investigation. Retracing my steps to where 
we had first come out on the ridge I entered the jungle, and 
carefully worked round the open ground and back to where 
the men were sitting. N.o alarm-call of animal or bird indicated 
that a tiger was anywhere in the vicinity, but from there on I 
made the four men walk in front of me, while I brought up 
the rear, with thumb on safety-catch and a constant lookout 

When we arrived at the little village my companions had 
started from, they asked for permission to leave me. I was very 
glad of this request, for I had a mile of dense scrub jungle to 
go through, and though the feeling that I was being followed 
had long since left me, I felt safer and more comfortable with 
only my own life to guard. A little below the outlying terraced 
fields, and where the dense scrub started, there was a crystal- 
clear spring of water, from which the village drew its water- 
supply. Here in the soft wet ground I found the fresh pug 
marks of the man-eater. 

These pug marks, coming from the direction of the village 
I was making for, coupled with the uneasy feeling I had ex- 
perienced on the ridge above, convinced me that something had 
gone wrong with the ' kill ' and that my quest would be fruitless. 
As I emerged from the scrub jungle I came in view of Lohali, 

The Chowgarh Tigers 59 

which consisted of five or six small houses. Near the door of 
one of these houses a group of people were collected. 

My approach over the steep open ground and narrow terraced 
fields was observed, and a few men detached themselves from 
the group nekr the door and advanced to meet me. One of the 
number, an old man, bent down to- touch my feet, and with 
tears streaming down his cheeks implored me to save the life 
of his daughter. His story was as short as it was tragic. His 
daughter, who was a widow and the only relative he had in the 
world, had gone out at about ten o'clock to collect dry sticks 
with which to cook their midday meal. A small stream flows 
through the valley, and on the far side of the stream from the 
village the hill goes steeply up. On the lower slope of this hill 
there are a few terraced fields. At the edge of the lowest field, 
and distant about 150 yards from the home, the woman had 
started to collect sticks. A little later, some women who were 
washing their clothes in the stream heard a scream, and on 
looking up saw the woman and a tiger disappearing together 
into the dense thorn bushes, which extended from the edge of 
the field right down to the stream. Dashing back to the village, 
the women raised an alarm. The frightened villagers made no 
attempt at a rescue, and a message for help was shouted to a 
village higher up the valley, from where it was tossed back to 
the village from which the four men had set out to find me. 
Half an hour after the message had been sent, the wounded 
woman crawled home. Her story was that she had seen the 
tiger just as it was about to spring on her, and as there was no 
time to run, she had jumped down the almost perpendicular 
hillside and while she was in the air the tiger had caught her 
and they had gone down the hill together. She remembered 
nothing further until she regained consciousness and found her- 
self near the stream; and being unable to call for help, she had 
crawled back to the village on her hands and knees. 

We had reached the door of the house while this tale was 

60 Man-eaters of Kumabn 

being told. Making the people stand back from the door 
the only opening in the four walls of the room I drew the 
blood-stained sheet off the woman, whose pitiful condition I 
am not going to attempt to describe. Had I been a qualified 
doctor, armed with modern appliances, instead of just a mere 
man with a little permanganate of potash in his pocket, I do not 
think it would have been possible to have saved the woman's 
life; for the deep tooth and claw wounds in her face, neck, and 
other parts of her body had, in that hot unventilated room, 
already turned septic. Mercifully she was only semi-conscious. 
The old father had followed me into the room, and, more for 
his satisfaction than for any good I thought it would do, I 
washed the caked blood from the woman's head and body, and 
cleaned out the wounds as best I could with my handkerchief 
and a strong solution of permanganate. 

It was now too late to think of returning to my camp, and 
a place would have to be found in which to pass the night. 
A little way up the stream, and not far from where the women 
had been washing their clothes, there was a giant pipal tree, 
with a foot-high masonry platfrom round it used by the villagers 
for religious ceremonies. 

I undressed on the platform and bathed in the stream; and 
when the wind had carried out the functions of a towel, dressed 
again, put my back to the tree and, laying the loaded rifle by 
my side, prepared to see the night out. Admittedly it was an 
unsuitable place in which to spend the night, but any place was 
preferable to the village, and that dark room, with its hot fetid 
atmosphere and swarm of buzzing flies, where a woman in 
torment fought desperately for breath. 

During the night the wailing of women announced that the suf- 
ferer's troubles were over, and when I passed through the village 
at day break preparations for the funeral were well advanced. 

From the experience of this unfortunate woman, and that 
of the girl at Dalkania, it was now evident that the old tigress 

The Chowgarh Tigers 61 

had depended, to a very great extent, on her cub to kill the 
human beings she attacked. Usually only one out of every 
hundred people attacked by man-eating tigers escapes, but in 
the case of this man-eater it was apparent that more people 
would be mauled than killed outright, and as the nearest hospi- 
tal was fifty miles away, when I returned to Naini Tal I 
appealed to Government to send a supply of disinfectants and 
dressings to all the Headmen of villages in the area in which 
the man-eater was operating. On my subsequent visit I was 
glad to learn that the request had been complied with, and that 
the disinfectants had saved the lives of a number of people. 

I stayed at Dalkania for another week and announced on 
a Saturday that I would leave for home the following Monday. 
I had now been in the man-eater's domain for close on a month, 
and the constant strain of sleeping in- an open tent, and of 
walking endless miles during the day with the prospect of 
every step being the last, was beginning to tell on my nerves. 
The villagers received my announcement with consternation, 
and only desisted from trying to make me change my decision 
when I promised them I would return at the first opportunity. 

After breakfast on Sunday morning the Headmen of Dalkania 
paid me a visit and requested me to shoot them some game 
before I left. The request was gladly acceded to, and half an 
hour later, accompanied by four villagers and one of my own 
men, and armed with a .275 rifle and a clip of cartridges, I 
set off for the hill on the far side of the Nandhour river, on the 
upper slopes of which I had, from my camp, frequently seen 
ghooral feeding. 

One of the villagers accompanying me was a tall gaunt man 
with a terribly disfigured face. He had been a constant visitor to 
my camp, and finding in me a good listener had told and retold 
his encounter with the man-eater so often that I could, without 
effort, repeat the whole story in my sleep. The encounter had ta- 
ken place four years previously and is best told in his own words. 

62 Man-eaters of Kumbon 

' Do you see that pine tree, sahib, at the bottom of the grassy 
slope on the shoulder of the hill? Yes, the pine tree with a 
big white rock to the east of it. Well, it was at the upper edge 
of the grassy slope that the man-eater attacked me. The grassy 
slope is as perpendicular as the wall of a house, and none but 
a hillman could find foothold on it. My son, who was eight 
years of age at the time, and I had cut grass on that slope on 
the day of my misfortune, carrying the grass up in armfuls to 
the belt of trees where the ground is level. 

' I was stooping down at the very edge of the slope, tying 
the grass into a big bundle, when the tiger sprang at me and 
buried its teeth, one under my right eye, one in my chin and 
the other two here at the back of my neck. The tiger's mouth 
struck me with a great blow and I fell over on my back, while 
the tiger lay on top of me chest to chest, with its stomach 
between my legs. When falling backwards I had flung out my 
arms and my right hand had come in contact with an oak 
sapling. As my fingers grasped the sapling, an idea came to me. 
My legs were free, and if I could draw them up and insert my 
feet under and against the tiger's belly, I might be able to push 
the tiger off, and run away. The pain, as the tiger crushed all 
the bones on the right side of my face, was terrible; but I did 
not lose consciousness, for you see, sahib, at that time I was a 
young man, and in all the hills there was no one to compare 
with me in strength. Very slowly, so as not to anger the tiger 
I drew my legs up on either side of it, and gently inserted my 
bare feet against its belly. Then placing my left hand against 
its chest and pushing and kicking upwards with all my might, I 
lifted the tiger right off the ground and, we being on the very 
edge of the perpendicular hillside, the tiger went crashing down 
and belike would have taken me with him, had my hold on 
the sapling not been a good one. 

'My son had been too frightened to run away, and when 
the tiger had gone, I took his loincloth from him and wrapped 

The Chowgarh Tigers 65 

it round my head, and holding his hand I walked back to the 
village. Arrived at my home I told my wife to call all my 
friends together, for I wished to see their faces before I died. 
When my friends were assembled and saw my condition, they 
wanted to put me on a charpoy and carry me fifty miles to 
the Almora hospital, but this I would not consent to; for my 
suffering was great, and being assured that my time had come, 
I wanted to die where I had been born, and where I had lived 
all my life. Water was brought, for I was thirsty and my head 
was on fire, but when it was poured into my mouth, it all 
flowed out through the holes in my neck. Thereafter, for a 
period beyond measure, there was great confusion in my mind, 
and much pain in my head and in my neck, and while I waited 
and longed for death to end my sufferings my wounds healed 
of themselves, and I became well. 

'And now, sahib, I am as you see me, old and thin, and 
with white hair, and a face that no man can look on without 
repulsion. My enemy lives and continues to claim victims but do 
not be deceived into thinking it is a tiger, for it is no tiger but an 
evil spirit, who, when it craves for human flesh and blood, takes 
on for a little while the semblance of a tiger. But they say 
you are a sadhu, sahib, and the spirits that guard sadhus are 
more powerful than this evil spirit, as is proved by the fact 
that you spent three days and three nights alone in the jungle, 
and came out as your men said you would alive and unhurt/ 

Looking at the great frame of the man, it was easy to picture 
him as having been a veritable giant. And a giant in strength 
he must have been, for no man, unless he had been endowed 
with strength far above the average, could have lifted the tigress 
into the air, torn its hold from the side of his head, carrying 
away, as it did, half his face with it, and hurled it down the 
precipitous hill. 

My gaunt friend constituted himself our guide, and with a 
beautifully polish^ axe, with long tapering handle, over his 

64 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

shoulder, led us by devious steep paths to the valley below. 
Fording the Nandhour river, we crossed several wide terraced 
fields, now gone out of cultivation for fear of the man-eater, 
and on reaching the foot of the hill started what proved to 
be a very atiff climb, through forest, to the grass slopes above. 
Gaunt my friend may have been, but he lacked nothing in wind, 
and tough as I was it was only by calling frequent halts to 
admire the view that I was able to keep up with him. 

Emerging from the tree forest, we went diagonally across 
the grassy slope, in the direction of a rock cliff that extended 
upwards for a thousand feet or more. It was on this cliff, 
sprinkled over with tufts of short grass, that I had seen ghooral 
feeding from my tent. We had covered a few hundred yards 
when one of these small mountain-goats started up out of a 
ravine, and at my shot 'crumpled up and slipped back out of 
sight. Alarmed by the report of the rifle, another ghooral, that 
had evidently been lying asleep at the foot of the cliff, sprang 
to his feet and went up the rock face, as only he or his big 
brother the tahr could have done. As he climbed upwards, I 
lay down and, putting the sight to 200 yards, waited for him 
to stop. This he presently did, coming out on a projecting 
rock to look down on us. At my shot he staggered, regained 
his footing, and very slowly continued his climb. At the second 
shot he fell, hung for a second or two on a narrow ledge, and 
then fell through space to the grassy slope from whence he had 
started. Striking the ground he rolled over and over, passing 
within a hundred yards of us, and eventually came to rest on a 
cattle track a hundred and fifty yards below. 

I have only once, in all the years I have been shooting, 
witnessed a similar sight to the one we saw during the next 
few minutes, and on that occasion the marauder was a leopard. 

The ghooral had hardly come to rest when a big Himalayan 
bear came lumbering out of a ravine on the side of the grassy 
slope and, with never a pause or backwok, came at a 


w p 

* i 


W fc 

S fe 


See p. ii j 


The Chowgarh Tigers 65 

fast trot along the cattle track. On reaching the dead goat 
he sat down and took it into his lap, and as he started nosing 
the goat, I fired. Maybe I hurried over my shot, or allowed 
too much for refraction; anyway the bullet went low and struck 
the bear in the stomach instead of in the chest. To the six of 
us who were intently watching, it appeared that the bear took 
the smack of the bullet as an assault from the ghooral, for, rear- 
ing up, he flung the animal from him and came galloping along 
the track, emitting angry grunts. As he passed a hundred yards 
below us I fired my fifth and last cartridge, the bullet, as I 
found later, going through the fleshy part of his hind quarters. 

While the men retrieved the two ghooral, I descended to 
examine the blood trail. The blood on the track showed the 
bear to be hard hit, but even so there was danger in following 
it up with an empty rifle, for bears are bad-tempered at the 
best of times, and are very ugly customers to deal with when 

When the men rejoined me a short council of war was held. 
Camp was three and a half miles away, and as it was now 
2 p.m. it would not be possible to fetch more ammunition, track 
down and kill the bear, and get back home by dark; so it was 
unanimously decided that we should follow up the wounded 
animal and try to finish it off with stones and the axe. 

The hill was steep and fairly free of undergrowth, and by 
keeping above the bear there was a sporting chance of our being 
able to accomplish our task without serious mishap. We accord- 
ingly set off, I leading the way, followed by three men, the rear 
being brought up by two men each with a ghooral strapped 
to his back. Arrived at the spot where I had fired my last 
shot, additional blood on the track greatly encouraged us. Two 
hundred yards further on, the blood trail led down into a deep 
ravine. Here we divided up our force, two men crossing to the 
far side, the owner of the axe and I remaining on the near side, 
with the men carrying the ghooral following in our rear. On 


66 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

the word being given we started to advance down the hill. In 
the bed of the ravine, and fifty feet below us, was a dense patch 
of stunted bamboo, and when a stone was thrown into this 
thicket, the bear got up with a scream of rage; and six men, 
putting their best foot foremost, went straight up the hill. I 
was not trained to this form of exercise, and on looking back 
to see if the bear was gaining on us, I saw, much to my relief, 
that he was going as hard downhill as we were going uphill. 
A shout to my companions, a rapid change of direction, and we 
were off in full cry and rapidly gaining on our quarry. A few 
well-aimed shots had been registered, followed by delighted 
shouts from the marksmen, and angry grunts from the bear, 
when at a sharp bend in the ravine, which necessitated a cauti- 
ous advance, we lost touch with the bear. To have followed the 
blood trail would have been easy, but here the ravine was full 
of big rocks, behind any of which the bear might have been 
lurking, so while the encumbered men sat down for a rest, a cast 
was made on either side of the ravine. While my companion 
went forward to look down into the ravine, I went to the right 
to prospect a rocky cliff that went sheer down for some two 
hundred feet. Holding to a tree for support, I leaned over and 
saw the bear lying on a narrow ledge forty feet immediately 
below me. I picked up a stone, about thirty pounds in weight, 
and, again advancing to the edge and in imminent danger of 
going over myself, I raised the stone above my head with both 
hands and hurled it. 

The stone struck the ledge a few inches from the bear's head, 
and scrambling to his feet he disappeared from sight, to reappear 
a minute later on the side of the hill. Once again the hunt was 
on. The ground was here more open and less encumbered with 
rocks, and the four of us who were running light had no 
difficulty in keeping up with him. For a mile or more we ran 
him at top speed, until we eventually cleared the forest and 
emerged on to the terraced fields. Rainwater had cut several 

The Chowgarh Tigers 67, , 

deep and narrow channels across the fields, and in one of these r 
channels the bear took cover. 

The man with the distorted face was the only armed member 
of the party and he was unanimously elected executioner. 
Nothing loth, he cautiously approached the bear and, swinging 
his beautifully polished axe aloft, brought the square head down 
on the bear's skull. The result was as alarming as it was un- 
expected. The axe-head rebounded off the bear's skull as 
though it had been struck on a block of rubber, and with a 
scream of rage the animal reared up on his hind legs. Fortu- 
nately he did not follow up his advantage, for we were bunched 
together, and in trying to run got in each other's way. 

The bear did not appear to like this open ground, and after 
going a short way down the channel again took cover. It was 
now my turn for the axe. The bear,, however, having once 
been struck resented my approach, and it was only after a great 
deal of manoeuvring that I eventually got within striking dis- 
tance. It had been my ambition when a boy to be a lumber- 
man in Canada, and I had attained sufficient proficiency with an 
axe to split a match-stick. I had no fear, therefore, as the 
owner had, of the axe glancing off and getting damaged on the 
stones, and the moment I got within reach I buried the entire 
blade in the bear's skull. 

Himalayan bearskins are very greatly prized by our hill folk, 
and the owner of the axe was a very proud and envied man 
when I told him he could have the skin in addition to a double 
share of the ghooral meat. Leaving the men, whose numbers 
were being rapidly augmented by new arrivals from the village, 
to skin and divide up the bag, I climbed up to the village and 
paid, as already related, a last visit to the injured girl. The day 
had been a strenuous one, and if the man-eater had paid me a 
visit that night she would have ' caught me napping ' . 

On the road I had taken when coming to Dalkania there 
were several long stiff climbs up treeless hills, and when I 

68 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

mentioned the discomforts of this road to the villagers they had 
suggested that I should go back via Haira Khan. This route 
Would necessitate only one climb to the ridge above the village, 
from where it was downhill all the way to Ranibagh, whence 
I could complete the journey to Naini Tal by car. 

I had warned my men overnight to prepare for an early 
start, and a little before sunrise, leaving them to pack up and 
follow me, I said good-bye to my friends at Dalkania and start- 
ed on the two-mile climb to the forest road on the ridge above. 
The footpath I took was not the one by which my men, and 
later I, had arrived at Dalkania, but was one the villagers used 
when going to, and returning from, the bazaars in the foot-hills. 
The path wound in and out of deep ravines, through thick 
oak and pine forests and dense undergrowth. There had been 
no news of the tigress for a week. This absence of news made 
me all the more careful, and an hour after leaving camp I 
arrived without mishap at an open glade near the top of the 
hill, within a hundred yards of the forest road. 

The glade was pear-shaped, roughly a hundred yards long 
and fifty yards wide, with a stagnant pool of rain-water in the 
centre of it. Sambur and other game used this pool as a 
drinking place and wallow and, curious to see the tracks round 
it, I left the path, which skirted the left-hand side of the glade 
and passed close under a cliff of rock which extended up to 
the road. As 'I approached the pool I saw the pug marks of 
the tigress in the soft earth at the edge of the water. She had 
approached the pool from the same direction as I had, and, 
evidently disturbed by me, had crossed the water and gone 
into the dense tree and scrub jungle on the right-hand side of 
the glade. A great chance lost, for had I kept as careful a 
lookout in front as I had behind I should have seen her before 
she saw me. However, though I had missed a chance, the 
advantages were now all on my side and distinctly in my favour. 
The tigress had seen me, or she would not have crossed 

The Chowgarh Tigers 69 

the pool and hurried for shelter, as her tracks showed she had 
done. Having seen me she had also seen that I was alone, and 
watching me from cover as she undoubtedly was, she would 
assume I was going to the pool to drink as she had done. My 
movements up to this had been quite natural, and if I could 
continue to make her think I was unaware of her presence, she 
would possibly give me a second chance. Stooping down and 
keeping a very sharp lookout from under my hat, I coughed 
several times, splashed the water about, and then, moving very 
slowly and gathering dry sticks on the way, I went to the foot 
of the steep rock. Here I built a small fire, and putting my 
back to the rock lit a cigarette. By the time the cigarette had 
been smoked the fire had burnt out. I then lay down, and 
pillowing my head on my left arm placed the rifle on the ground 
with rny finger on the trigger. 

The rock above me was too steep for any animal to find 
foothold on. I had therefore only my front to guard, and 
as the heavy cover nowhere approached to within less than 
twenty yards of my position I was quite safe. I had all this 
time neither seen nor heard anything; nevertheless, I was con- 
vinced that the tigress was watching me. The rim of my hat, 
while effectually shading my eyes, did not obstruct my vision 
and inch by inch I scanned every bit of the jungle within my 
range of view. There was not a breath of win^blowing, and 
not a leaf or blade of grass stirred. My men, whom I had 
instructed to keep close together and sing from the time they 
left camp until they joined me on the forest road, were not 
due for an hour and a half, and during this time it was more 
than likely that the tigress would break cover and try to stalk, 
or rush, me. 

There are occasions when time drags, and others when it 
flies. My left arm, on which my head was pillowed, had long 
since ceased to prick and had gone dead, but even so the singing 
of the men in the valley below reached me all too soon. The 

70 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

voices grew louder, and presently I caught sight of the men as 
they rounded a sharp bend. It was possibly at this bend that 
the tigress had seen me as she turned round to retrace her steps 
after having her drink. Another failure, and the last chance 
on this trip gone. 

After my men had rested we climbed up to the road, and 
set off on what proved to be a very long twenty-mile march 
to the forest Rest House at Haira Khan. After going a couple 
of hundred yards over open ground, the road entered very thick 
forest, and here I made the men walk in front while I brought 
up the rear. We had gone about two miles in this order, when 
on turning a corner I saw a man sitting on the road, herding 
buffaloes. It was now time to call a halt for breakfast, so I 
asked the man where we could get water. He pointed down 
the hill straight in front of him, and said there was a spring 
down there from which his village, which was just round the 
shoulder of the hill, drew its water-supply. There was, how- 
ever, no necessity for us to go down the hill for water, for if we 
continued a little further we should find a good spring on 
the road. 

His village was at the upper end of the valley in which the 
woman of Lohali had been killed the previous week, and he 
told me that nothing had been heard of the man-eater since, 
and added t^g| the animal was possibly now at the other end 
of the district. I disabused his mind on this point by telling 
him about the fresh pug marks I had seen at the pool, and 
advised him very strongly to collect his buffaloes and return to 
the village. His buffaloes, some ten in number, were straggling 
up towards the road and he said he would leave as soon as 
they had grazed up to where he was sitting. Handing him a 
cigarette, I left him with a final warning. What occurred after 
I left was related to me by the men of the village, when I paid 
the district a second visit some months later. 

When the man eventually got home that day he told the 

The Chowgarh Tigers 71 

assembled villagers of our meeting, and my warning, and said 
that after he had watched me go round a bend in the road a 
hundred yards away he started to light the cigarette I had given 
him. A wind was blowing, and to protect the flame of the 
match he bent forward, and while in this position he was seized 
from behind by the right shoulder and pulled backwards. His 
first thought was of the party who had just left him, but un- 
fortunately, his cry for help was not heard by them. Help, 
however, was near at hand, for as soon as the buffaloes heard 
his cry, mingled with the growl of the tigress, they charged on 
to the road and drove the tigress off. His shoulder and arm 
were broken, and with great difficulty he managed to climb on 
the back of one of his brave rescuers, and, followed by the rest 
of the herd, reached his home. The villagers tied up his wounds 
as best they could and carried him thirty miles, non-stop, to the 
Haldwani hospital, where he died shortly after admission. 

When Atropos who snips the threads of life misses one 
thread she cuts another, and we who do not know why one 
thread is missed and another cut, call it Fate, Kismet, or what 
we will. 

For a month I had lived in an open tent, a hundred yards 
from the nearest human being, and from dawn to dusk had 
wandered through the jungles, and on several occasions had 
disguised myself as a woman and cut grass in^laces where no 
local inhabitant dared to go. During this penWl the man-eater 
had, quite possibly, missed many opportunities of adding me to 
her bag and now, when making a final effort, she had quite 
by chance encountered this unfortunate man and claimed him 
as a victim. 


The following February I returned to Dalkania. A number 
of human being? had been killed, and many more wounded, 
over a wide area since my departure from the district the 

72 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

previous summer, and as the whereabouts of the tigress was not 
known and the chances in one place were as good as in another, 
I decided to return and camp on the ground with which I was 
now familiar. 

On my arrival at Dalkania I was told that a cow had been 
killed the previous evening, on the hill on which the bear hunt 
had taken place. The men who had been herding the cattle 
at the time were positive that the animal they had seen killing 
the cow was a tiger. The kill was lying near some bushes at 
the edge of a deserted field, and was clearly visible from the 
spot where my tent was being put up. Vultures were circling 
over the kill, and looking through my field-glasses I saw several 
of these birds perched on a tree, to the left of the kill. From 
the fact that the kill was lying out in the open, and the vultures 
had not descended on it, I concluded (a) that the cow had 
been killed by a leopard, and (b) that the leopard was lying 
up close to the kill. 

The ground below the field on which the cow was lying was 
very steep and overgrown with dense brushwood. The man- 
eater was still at large, and an approach over this ground was 
therefore inadvisable. 

To the right was a grassy slope, but the ground here was 
too open to admit of my approaching the kill without being 
seen. A deep .heavily-wooded ravine, starting from near the 
crest of the hillPran right down to the Nandhour river, passing 
within a short distance of the kill. The tree on which the 
vultures were perched was growing on the edge of this ravine. 
I decided on this ravine as my line of approach. While I had 
been planning out the stalk with the assistance of the villagers, 
who knew every foot of the ground, my men had prepared tea 
for me. The day was now on the decline but by going hard 
I should just have time to visit the kill and return to camp 
before nightfall. 

Before setting off I instructed my men to be on the look- 

The Chowgarh Tigers 75 

out. If, after hearing a shot, they saw me on the open ground 
near the kill, three or four of them were immediately to leave 
camp, and, keeping to the open ground, to join me. On the 
other hand if I did not fire, and failed to return by morning, 
a search party was to be organized. 

The ravine was overgrown with raspberry bushes and strewn 
with great rocks, and as the wind was blowing downhill, my 
progress was slow. After a stiff climb I eventually reached the 
tree on which the vultures were perched, only to find that the 
kill was not visible from this spot. The deserted field, which 
through my field-glasses had appeared to be quite straight, I 
found to be crescent-shaped, ten yards across at its widest part 
and tapering to a point at both ends. The outer edge was 
bordered with dense undergrowth, and the hill fell steeply away 
from the inner edge. Only two-thirds of the field was visible 
from where I was standing, and in order to see the remaining 
one-third, on which the kill was lying, it would be necessary 
either to make a wide detour and approach from the far side 
or climb the tree on which the vultures were perched. 

I decided on the latter course. The cow, as far as I could 
judge, was about twenty yards from the tree, and it was quite 
possible that the animal that had killed her was even less than 
that distance from me. To climb the tree without disturbing 
the killer would have been an impossible feat, and would not 
have been attempted had it not been for the vmttires. There 
were by now some twenty of these birds on the tree and their 
number was being added to by new arrivals, and as the accom- 
modation on the upper branches was limited there was much 
flapping of wings and quarrelling. The tree was leaning out- 
wards away from the hill, and about ten feet from the ground 
a great limb projected out over the steep hillside. Hampered 
with the rifle I had great difficulty in reaching this limb. Wait- 
ing until a fresh quarrel had broken out among the vultures, I 
stepped out along the branch a difficult balancing feat where 

74 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

a slip or false step would have resulted in a fall of a hundred or 
more feet on to the rocks below reached a fork, and sat down. 

The kill, from which only a few pounds of flesh had been 
eaten, was now in full view. I had been in position about ten 
minutes, and was finding my perch none too comfortable, when 
two vultures, who had been circling round and were uncertain 
of their reception on the tree, alighted on the field a short dis- 
tance from the cow. They had hardly come to rest when they 
were on the wing again, and at the same moment the bushes on 
my side of the kill were gently agitated and out into the open 
stepped a fine male leopard. 

Those who have never seen_a leopard jmder favourable 
conditions. jn Jusjiatural_surroundings can have no conception 
of the grace of movement, and beauty of jpolouring, of this the 
most_.gracefuL and the most beauJdfiU^oLalLaixiiiials in our JEndian 
jungles, Nor are his attractions limited to outward appearances, 
forTlpound for pound, his strength is second to none, and in 
courage he lacks nothing. To class such an animal as VERMIN, 
as is done in some parts of India, is a crime which only those 
could perpetrate whose knowledge of the leopard is limited to 
the miserable, underfed, and mangy specimens seen in captivity. 

But beautiful as the specimen was that stood before me, 
his life was forfeit, for he had taken to cattle killing, and I 
had promised tile people of Dalkania and other villages on my 
last visit that I would rid them of this their minor enemy, if 
opportunity offered. The opportunity had now come, and I 
do not think the leopard heard the shot that killed him. 

Of the many incomprehensible things one meets with in 
life, the hardest to assign any reason for is the way in which 
misfortune dogs an individual, or a family. Take as an example 
the case of the owner of the cow over which I had shot the 
leopard. He was a boy, eight years of age, and an only child. 
Two years previously his mother, while out cutting grass for the 
cow, had been killed and eaten by the man-eater, and twelve 

The Chowgarh Tigers 75 

months later his father had suffered a like fate. The few pots 
and pans the family possessed had been sold to pay off the small 
debt left by the father, and the son started life as the owner 
of one cow; and this particular cow the leopard had selected, 
out of a herd of two or three hundred head of village cattle, and 
killed. (I am afraid my attempt to repair a heartbreak was not 
very successful in this case, for though the new cow, a red one, 
was an animal of parts, it did not make up to the boy for the 
loss of his lifelong white companion.) 

My young buffaloes had been well cared for by the man in 
whose charge I had left them, and the day after my arrival I 
started tying them out, though I had little hope of the tigress 
accepting them as bait. 

Five miles down the Nandhour valley nestles a little village 
at the foot of a great cliff of rock, some thousand or more feet 
high. The man-eater had, during the past few months, killed 
four people on the outskirts of this village. Shortly after I shot 
the leopard, a deputation came from this village to request me to 
move my camp from Dalkania to a site that had been selected 
for me near their village. I was told that the tiger had fre- 
quently been seen on the cliff above the village and that it 
appeared to have its home in one of the many caves in the cliff 
face. That very morning, I was informed, some women out 
cutting grass had seen the tiger, and the villagers were now in 
a state of terror, and too frightened to leave their homes. 
Promising the deputation I would do all I could to help them, 
I made a very early start next morning, climbed the hill opposite 
the village, and scanned me cliff for an hour or more through 
my field-glasses. I then crossed the valley, and by way of a 
very deep ravine climbed the cliff above the village. Here the 
going was very difficult and not at all to my liking, for added 
to the danger of a fall, which would have resulted in a broken 
neck, was the danger of an attack on ground on which it would 
be impossible to defend oneself. 

76 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

By 2 p.m. I had seen as much of the rock cliff as I shall 
ever want to see again, and was making my way up the valley 
towards my camp and breakfast, when on looking back before 
starting the stiff climb to Dalkania I saw two men running 
towards me from the direction in which I had just come. On 
joining me the men informed me that a tiger had just killed a 
bullock in the deep ravine up which I had gone earlier in the 
day. Telling one of the men to go on up to my camp and instruct 
my servant to send tea and some food, I turned round and, ac- 
companied by the other man, retraced my steps down the valley. 

The ravine where the bullock had been killed was about 
two hundred feet deep and one hundred feet wide. As we 
approached it I saw a number of vultures rising, and when we 
arrived at the kill I found the vultures had cleaned it out, leav- 
ing only the skin and bones. The spot where the remains of 
the bullock were lying was only a hundred yards from the vil- 
lage but there was no way up the steep bank, so my guide took 
me a quarter of a mile down the ravine, to where a cattle track 
crossed it. This track, after gaining the high ground, wound 
in and out through dense scrub jungle before it finally fetched 
up at the village. On arrival at the village I told the Headman 
that the vultures had ruined the kill, and asked him to provide 
me with a young buffalo and a short length of stout rope; 
while these were being procured, two of my men arrived from 
Dalkania with the food I had sent for. 

The sun was near setting when I re-entered the ravine, 
followed by several men leading a vigorous young male buffalo 
which the Headman had purchased for me from an adjoining 
village. Fifty yards from where the bullock had been killed, 
one end of a pine tree washed down from the hill above had been 
buried deep in the bed of the ravine After tying the buffalo 
very securely to the exposed end of the pine, the men returned 
to the village. There were no trees in the vicinity, and the .only 
possible place for a sit-up was a narrow ledge on the village 

The Chowgarh Tigers 77 

side of the ravine. With great difficulty I climbed to this ledge, 
which was about two feet wide by five feet long, and twenty 
feet above the bed of the ravine. From a little below the ledge 
the rock shelved inwards, forming a deep recess that was not 
visible from the ledge. The ledge canted downwards at an 
uncomfortable angle, and when I had taken my seat on it, I 
had my back towards the direction from which I expected the 
tiger to come, while the tethered buffalo was to my left front, 
and distant about thirty yards from me. 

The sun had set when the buffalo, who had been lying down, 
scrambled to his feet and faced up the ravine, and a moment 
later a stone came rolling down. It would not have been poss- 
ible for me to have fired in the direction from which the sound 
had come, so to avoid detection I sat perfectly still. After some 
time the buffalo gradually turned to the left until he was 
facing in my direction. This showed that whatever he was 
frightened of and I could see he was frightened was in the 
recess below me. Presently the head of a tiger appeared directly 
under me. A head-shot at a tiger is only justified in an emer- 
gency, and any movement on my part might have betrayed my 
presence. For a long minute or two the head remained perfectly 
still, and then, with a quick dash forward, and one great bound, 
the tiger was on the buffalo. The buffalo, as I have stated, was 
facing the tiger, and to avoid a frontal attack with the possibility 
of injury from the buffalo's horns, the tiger's dash carried him 
to the left of the buffalo, and he made his attack at right 
angles. There was no fumbling for tooth-hold, no struggle, and 
no sound beyond the impact of the two heavy bodies, after 
which the buffalo lay quite still with the tiger lying partly over 
it and holding it by the throat. It is generally believed that 
tigers kill by delivering a smashing blow on the neck. This is 
incorrect. Tigers kill with their teeth. 

The right side of the tiger was towards me and, taking 
careful aim with the .275 I had armed myself with when leaving 

78 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

camp that morning, I fired. Relinquishing its hold on the 
buffalo, the tiger, without making a sound, turned and bounded 
off up the ravine and out of sight. Clearly a miss, for which 
I was unable to assign any reason. If the tiger had not seen 
me or the flash of the rifle there was a possibility that it would 
return; so recharging the rifle I sat on. 

The buffalo, after the tiger left him, lay without movement, 
and the conviction grew on me that I had shot him instead of 
the tiger. Ten, fifteen minutes had dragged by, when the 
tiger's head for a second time appeared from the recess below 
me. Again there was a long pause, and then, very slowly, the 
tiger emerged, walked up to the buffalo and stood looking down 
at it. With the whole length of the back as a target I was 
going to make no mistake the second time. Very carefully the 
sights were aligned, and the trigger slowly pressed; but instead 
of the tiger falling dead as I expected it to, it sprang to the 
left and went tearing up a little ravine, dislodging stones as it 
went up the steep hillside. 

Two shots fired in comparatively good light at a range of 
thirty yards, and heard by anxious villagers for miles round: 
and all I should have to show for them would be, certainly one, 
and quite possibly two, bullet holes in a dead buffalo. Clearly 
my eyesight was failing, or in climbing the rock I had knocked 
the foresight out of alignment. But on focussing my eyes on 
small objects I found there was nothing wrong with my eye- 
sight, and a glance along the barrel showed that the sights were 
all right, so the only reason I could assign for having missed 
the tiger twice was bad shooting. 

There was no chance of the tiger returning a third time; 
and even if it did return, there was nothing to be gained by 
risking the possibility of only wounding it in bad light when 
I had not been able to kill it while the light had been com- 
paratively good. Under these circumstances there was no 
object in my remaining any longer on the ledge. 

The Chowgarh Tigers 79 

My clothes were still damp from my exertions earlier in the 
day, a cold wind was blowing and promised to get colder, my 
shorts were of thin khaki and the rock was hard and cold, and 
a hot cup of tea awaited me in the village. Good as these rea- 
sons were, there was a better and a more convincing reason for 
my remaining where I was the man-eater. It was now quite 
dark. A quarter-of-a-mile walk, along a boulder-strewn ravine 
and a winding path through dense undergrowth, lay between me 
and the village. Beyond the suspicions of the villagers that the 
tiger they had seen the previous day and that I had quite 
evidently just fired at was the man-eater, I had no definite 
knowledge of the man-eater's whereabouts; and though at that 
moment she might have been fifty miles away, she might also 
have been watching me from a distance of fifty yards, so, un- 
comfortable as my perch was, prudence dictated that I should 
remain where I was. As the long hours dragged by, the con- 
viction grew on me that man-eater shooting, by night, was not 
a pastime that appealed to me, and that if this animal could not 
be shot during daylight hours she would have to be left to die 
of old age. This conviction was strengthened, when, cold and 
stiff, I started to climb down as soon as there was sufficient 
light to shoot by, and slipping on the dew-drenched rock com- 
pleted the descent with my feet in the air. Fortunately I landed 
on a bed of sand, without doing myself or the rifle any injury. 

Early as it was I found the village astir, and I was quickly 
in the middle of a small crowd. In reply to the eager questions 
from all sides, I was only able to say that I had been firing at 
an imaginary tiger with blank ammunition. 

A pot of tea drunk while sitting near a roaring fire did much 
to restore warmth to my inner and outer man, and then, 
accompanied by most of the men and all the boys of the village, 
I went to where a rock jutted out over the ravine and directly 
above my overnight exploit. To the assembled throng I ex- 
plained how the tiger had appeared from the recess under me 

80 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

and had bounded on to the buffalo, and how after I had fired 
it had dashed off in that direction; and as I pointed up the 
ravine there was an excited shout of ' Look, sahib, there's the 
tiger lying dead! ' My eyes were strained with an all-night 
vigil, but even after looking away and back again there was no 
denying the fact that the tiger was lying there, dead. To the 
very natural question of why I had fired a second shot after a 
period of twenty or thirty minutes, I said that the tiger had 
appeared a second time from exactly the same place, and that 
I had fired at it while it was standing near the buffalo and that 
it had gone up that side ravine and there were renewed shouts, 
in which the women and girls who had now come up joined, 
of ' Look, sahib, there is another tiger lying dead! ' Both tigers 
appeared to be about the same size and both were lying sixty 
yards from where I had fired. 

Questioned on the subject of this second tiger, the villagers 
said that when the four human beings had been killed, and 
also on the previous day when the bullock had been killed, 
only one tiger had been seen. The mating season for tigers 
is an elastic one extending from November to April, and the 
man-eater if either of the two tigers lying within view was the 
man-eater had evidently provided herself with a mate. 

A way into the ravine, down the steep rock face, was found 
some two hundred yards below where I had sat up, and, fol- 
lowed by the entire population of the village, I went past the 
dead buffalo to where the first tiger was lying. As I approached 
it hopes rose high, for she was an old tigress. Handing the rifle 
to the nearest man I got down on my knees to examine her 
feet. On that day when the tigress had tried to stalk the women 
cutting wheat she had left some beautiful pug marks on the 
edge of the field. They were the first pug marks I had seen 
of the man-eater, and I had examined them very carefully. 
They showed the tigress to be a very old animal, whose feet 
had splayed out with age. The pads of the forefeet were heavily 

The Chowgarh Tigers 81 

rutted, one deep rut running right across the pad of the right 
forefoot, and the toes were elongated to a length I had never 
before seen in a tiger. With these distinctive feet it would have 
been easy to pick the man-eater out of a hundred dead tigers. 
The animal before me was, I found to my great regret, not the 
man-eater. When I conveyed this information to the assembled 
throng of people there was a murmur of strong dissent from all 
sides. It was asserted that I myself, on my previous visit, had 
declared the man-eater to be an old tigress, and such an animal 
I had now shot a few yards from where, only a short time 
previously, four of their number had been killed. Against this 
convincing evidence, of what value was the evidence of the 
feet, for the feet of all tigers were alike ! 

The second tiger could, under the circumstances, only be a 
male, and while I made preparations to skin the tigress I sent 
a party of men to fetch him. The side ravine was steep and 
narrow, and after a great deal of shouting and laughter the 
second tiger a fine male was laid down alongside the tigress. 

The skinning of those two tigers that had been dead fourteen 
hours, with the sun beating down on my back and an ever- 
growing crowd pressing round, was one of the most unpleasant 
tasks I have ever undertaken. By early afternoon the job was 
completed, and with the skins neatly tied up for my men to 
carry I was ready to start on my five-mile walk back to camp. 

During the morning Headmen and others had come in from 
adjoining villages, and before leaving I assured them that the 
Chowgarh man-eater was not dead and warned them that the 
slackening of precautions would give the tigress the opportunity 
she was waiting for. Had my warning been heeded, the man- 
eater would not have claimed as many victims as she did during 
the succeeding months. 

There was no further news of the man-eater, and after a 
stay of a few weeks at Dalkania, I left to keep an appointment 
with the district officials in the terai. 


#2 Man-eaters of Kumaon 


In March 1930, Vivian, our District Commissioner, was 
touring through the man-eater's domain, and on the 22nd of 
the month I received an urgent request from him to go to 
Kala Agar, where he said he would await my arrival. It is 
roughly fifty miles from Naini Tal to Kala Agar, and two days 
after receipt of Vivian's letter I arrived in time for breakfast 
at the Kala Agar Forest Bungalow, where he and Mrs Vivian 
were staying. 

Over breakfast the Vivians told me they had arrived at the 
bungalow on the afternoon of the 2ist, and while they were 
having tea on the verandah, one of six women who were cutting 
grass in the compound of the bungalow had been killed and 
carried off by the man-eater. Rifles were hurriedly seized and, 
accompanied by some of his staff, Vivian followed up the ' drag ' 
and found the dead woman tucked away under a bush at the 
foot of an oak tree. On examining the ground later, I found 
that on the approach of Vivian's party the tigress had gone off 
down the hill, and throughout the subsequent proceedings had 
remained in a thicket of raspberry bushes, fifty yards from the 
kill. A machan was put up in the oak tree for Vivian, and two 
others in trees near the forest road which passed thirty yards 
above the kill, for members of his staff. The machans were 
occupied as soon as they were ready and the party sat up the 
whole night, without, however, seeing anything of the tigress. 

Next morning the body of the woman was removed for 
cremation, and a young buffalo was tied up on the forest road 
about half a mile from the bungalow, and killed by the tigress 
the same night. The following evening the Vivians sat up 
over the buffalo. There was no moon, and just as daylight was 
fading out and nearby objects becoming indistinct, they first 
heard, and then saw an animal coming up to the kill, which 
in the uncertain light they mistook for a bear; but for this 
unfortunate mistake their very sporting effort would have 

The Chowgarh Tigers 8$ 

resulted in their bagging the man-eater, for both the Vivians 
are good rifle shots. 

On the 25th the Vivians left Kala Agar, and during the 
course of the day my four buffaloes arrived from Dalkania. As 
the tigress now appeared to be inclined to accept this form of 
bait I tied them up at intervals of a few hundred yards along the 
forest road. For three nights in succession the tigress passed 
within a few feet of the buffaloes without touching them, but 
on the fourth night the buffalo nearest the bungalow was killed. 
On examining the kill in the morning I was disappointed to 
find that the buffalo had been killed by a pair of leopards I had 
heard calling the previous night above the bungalow. I did 
not like the idea of firing in this locality, for fear of driving 
away the tigress, but it was quite evident that if I did not shoot 
the leopards they would kill my three remaining buffaloes, so 
I stalked them while they were sunning themselves on some 
big rocks above the kill, and shot both of them. 

The forest road from the Kala Agar bungalow runs for several 
miles due west through very beautiful forests of pine, oak 
and rhododendron, and in these forests there is, compared with 
the rest of Kumaon, quite a lot of game in the way of sambur, 
kakar and pig, in addition to a great wealth of bird life. On 
two occasions I suspected the tigress of having killed sambur 
in this forest, and though on both occasions I found the blood- 
stained spot where the animal had been killed, I failed to find 
either of the kills. 

For the next fourteen days I spent all the daylight hours 
either on the forest road, on which no one but myself ever set 
foot, or in the jungle, and only twice during that period did 
I get near the tigress. On the first occasion I had been down 
to visit an isolated village, on the south face of Kala Agar 
ridge, that had been abandoned the previous year owing to the 
depredations of 1^e man-eater, and on the way back had taken 
a cattle track that went over the ridge and down the far side to 

84 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

the forest road, when, approaching a pile of rocks, I suddenly 
felt there was danger ahead. The distance from the ridge to 
the forest road was roughly three hundred yards. Thte track, 
after leaving the ridge, went steeply down for a few yards and 
then turned to the right and ran diagonally across the hill for a 
hundred yards; the pile of rocks was about midway on the 
right-hand .side of this length of the track. Beyond the rocks a 
hairpin bend carried the track to the left, and a hundred yards 
further on, another sharp bend took it down to its junction 
with the forest road. 

I had been along this track many times, and this was the 
first occasion on which I hesitated to pass the rocks. To avoid 
them I should either have had to go several hundred yards 
through dense undergrowth, or make a wide detour round and 
above them; the former would have subjected me to very great 
danger, and there was no time for the latter, fbr the sun was 
near setting and I had still two miles to go. So, whether I 
liked it or not, there was nothing for it but to face the rocks. 
The wind was blowing up the hill so I was able to ignore the 
thick cover on the left of the track, and concentrate all my 
attention on the rocks to my right. A hundred feet would see 
me clear of the danger zone, and this distance I covered foot 
by foot, walking sideways with my face to the rocks and the 
rifle to my shoulder; a strange mode of progression, had there 
been any to see it. 

Thirty yards beyond the rocks was an open glade, starting 
from the right-hand side of the track and extending up the 
hill for fifty or sixty yards, and screened from the rocks by a 
fringe of bushes. In this glade a kakar was grazing. I saw 
her before she saw me, and watched her out of the corner of 
my eye. On catching sight of me she threw up her head, and 
as I was not looking in her direction and was moving slowly 
on she stood stock still, as these animals have a habit of doing 
when they are under the impression that they have not been 

The Chowgarh Tigers 85 

seen. On arrival at the hairpin bend I looked oVer my 
shoulder and saw that the kakar had lowered her head, and 
was once more cropping the grass. 

I had walked a short distance along the track after passing 
the bend when the kakar went dashing up the hill, barking 
hysterically. In a few quick strides I was back at the bend, 
and was just in time to see a movement in the bushes on the 
lower side of the track. That the kakar had seen the tigress 
was quite evident, and the only place where she could have 
seen her was on the track. The movement I had seen might 
have been caused by the passage of a bird, on the other hand it 
might have been caused by the tigress; anyway, a little investi- 
gation was necessary before proceeding further on my way. 

A trickle of water seeping out from under the rocks had 
damped the red clay of which the track was composed, making 
an ideal surface for the impression of tracks. In this damp clay 
I had left footprints, and over these footprints I now found the 
splayed-out pug marks of the tigress where she had jumped 
down from the rocks and followed me, until the kakar had 
seen her and given its alarm-call, whereon the tigress had left 
the track and entered the bushes where I had seen the move- 
ment. The tigress was undoubtedly familiar with every foot of 
the ground, and not having had an opportunity of killing me 
at the rocks and her chance of bagging me at the first hair- 
pin bend having been spoilt by the kakar she was probably 
now making her way through the dense undergrowth to try to 
intercept me at the second bend. 

Further progress along the track was now not advisable, 
so I followed the kakar up the glade, and turning to the left 
worked my way down, over open ground, to the forest road 
below. Had there been sufficient daylight I believe I could, 
that evening, have turned the tables on the tigress, for the 
conditions, after she left the shelter of the rocks, were all in 
my favour. I knew the ground as well as she did, and while 

86 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

she had no reason to suspect my intention towards her, I had 
the advantage of knowing, very clearly, her intentions towards 
me. However, though the cgnditions were in my favour, I 
was unable to take advantage of them owing to the lateness 
of the evening. 

I have made mention elsewhere of the sense that warns us 
of impending danger, and will not labour the subject further 
beyond stating that this sense is a very real one and that I 
do not know, and therefore cannot explain, what brings it into 
operation. On this occasion I had neither heard nor seen the 
tigress, nor had I received any indication from bird or beast 
of her presence, and yet I knew, without any shadow of doubt, 
that she was lying up for me among the rocks. I had been 
out for many hours that day and had covered many miles of 
jungle with unflagging caution, but without one moment's 
unease, and then, on cresting the ridge, and coming in sight 
of the rocks, I knew they held danger for me, and this know- 
ledge was confirmed a few minutes later by the kakar's warn- 
ing call to the jungle folk, and by my finding the man-eater's 
pug marks superimposed on my footprints. 


To those of my readers who have had the patience to 
accompany me so far in my narrative, I should like to give 
a clear and a 1 detailed account of my first and last meeting 
with the tigress. 

The meeting took place in the early afternoon of the nth 
of April 1930, nineteen days after my arrival at Kala Agar. 

I had gone out that day at 2 p.m. with the intention of 
tying up my three buffaloes at selected places along the forest 
road, when at a point a mile from the bungalow, where the 
road crosses a ridge and goes from the north to the west face 
of the Kala Agar range, I came on a large party of men who 
had been out collecting firewood. In the party was an old man 

The Chowgarh Tigers 87 

who, pointing down the hill to a thicket of young oak trees 
some five hundred yards from where we were standing, said 
it was in that thicket where the rr\an-eater, a month previously, 
had killed his only son, a lad eighteen years of age. I had not 
heard the father's version of the killing of his son, so, while 
we sat on the edge of the road smoking, he told his story, 
pointing out the spot where the lad had been killed, and where 
all that was left of him had been found the following day. 
The old man blamed the twenty-five men who had been out 
collecting firewood on that day for the death of his son, saying, 
very bitterly, that they had run away and left him to be killed 
by the tiger. Some of the men sitting near me had been in that 
party of twenty-five and they hotly repudiated responsibility 
for the lad's death, accusing him of having been responsible 
for the stampede by screaming out that he had heard the tiger 
growling and telling everyone to run for their lives. This did 
not satisfy the old man. He shook his head and said, * You 
are grown men and he was only a boy, and you ran away and 
left him to be killed/ I was sorry for having asked the ques- 
tions that had led to this heated discussion, and more to placate 
the old man than for any good it would do, I said I would tie 
up one of my buffaloes near the spot where he said his son 
had been killed. So, handing two of the buffaloes over to the 
party to take back to the bungalow, I set off followed by two 
of my men leading the remaining buffalo. 

A footpath, taking off close to where we had been sitting, 
went down the hill to the valley below and zigzagged up the 
opposite pine-clad slope to join the forest road two miles further 
on. The path passed close to an open patch of ground which 
bordered the oak thicket in which the lad had been killed. 
On this patch of ground, which was about thirty yards square, 
there was a solitary pine sapling. This I cut down. I tied the 
buffalo to the stump, set one man to cutting a supply of grass 
for it, and sent the other man, Madho Singh, who served in 

88 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

the Garhwalis during the Great War and is now serving in the 
United Provinces Civil Pioneer Force, up an oak tree with 
instructions to strike a dry branch with the head of his axe 
and call at the top of his voice as hill people do when cutting 
leaves for their cattle. I then took up a position on a rock, 
about four feet high, on the lower edge of the open ground. 
Beyond the rock the hill fell steeply away to the valley below 
and was densely clothed with tree and scrub jungle. 

The man on the ground had made several trips with the 
grass he had cut, and Madho Singh on the tree was alternately 
shouting and singing lustily, while I stood on the rock smoking, 
with the rifle in the hollow of my left arm, when, all at once, 
I became aware that the man-eater had arrived. Beckoning 
urgently to the man on the ground to come to me, I whistled 
to attract Madho Singh's attention and signalled to him to 
remain quiet. The ground on three sides was comparatively 
open. Madho Singh on the tree was to my left front, the man 
cutting grass had been in front of me, while the buffalo now 
showing signs of uneasiness was to my right front. In this 
area the tigress could not have approached without my seeing 
her; and as she had approached, there was only one place 
where she could now be, and that was behind and immediately 
below me. 

When taking up my position I had noticed that the further 
side of the rock was steep and smooth, that it extended down 
the hill for eight or ten feet, and that the lower portion of it was 
masked by thick undergrowth and young pine saplings. It 
would have been a little difficult, but quite possible, for the 
tigress to have climbed the rock, and I relied for my safety on 
hearing her in the undergrowth should she make the attempt. 

I have no doubt that the tigress, attracted, as I had intended 
she should be, by the noise Madho Singh was making, had 
come to the rock, and that it was while she was looking up at 
me and planning her next move that I had become aware of 

The Chowgarh Tigers 89 

her presence. My change of front, coupled with the silence of 
the men, may have made her suspicious; anyway, after a lapse 
of a few minutes, I heard a dry twig snap a little way down 
the hill; thereafter the feeling of unease left me, and the tension 
relaxed. An opportunity lost; but there was still a very good 
chance of my getting a shot, for she would undoubtedly return 
before long, and when she found us gone would probably 
content herself with killing the buffalo. There were still four 
or five hours of daylight, and by crossing the valley and going 
up the opposite slope I should be able to overlook the whole 
of the hillside on which the buffalo was tethered. The shot, 
if I did get one, would be a long one of from two to three 
hundred yards, but the .275 rifle I was carrying was accurate, 
and even if I only wounded the tigress I should have a blood 
trail to follow, which would be better than feeling about for 
her in hundreds of square miles of jungle, as I had been doing 
these many months. 

The men were a difficulty. To have sent them back to the 
bungalow alone would have been nothing short of murder, so 
of necessity I kept them with me. 

Tying the buffalo to the stump in such a manner as to make 
it impossible for the tigress to cany it away, I left the open 
ground and rejoined the path to carry out the plan I have out- 
lined, of trying to get a shot from the opposite hill. 

About a hundred yards along the path I came to a ravine. 
On the far side of this the path entered very heavy under- 
growth, and as it was inadvisable to go into thick cover with 
two men following me, I decided to take to the ravine, follow 
it down to its junction with the valley, work up the valley and 
pick up the path on the far side of the undergrowth. 

The ravine was about ten yards wide and four or five feet 
deep, and as I stepped down into it a nightjar fluttered off a 
rock on which I had put my hand. On looking at the spot 
from which the bird had risen, I saw two eggs. These eggs, 

9Q Man-eaters of Kumaon 

straw-coloured, with rich brown markings, were of a most un- 
usual shape, one being long and very pointed, while the other 
was as round as a marble; and as my collection lacked nightjar 
eggs I decided to add this odd clutch to it. I had no receptacle 
of any kind in which to carry the eggs, so cupping my left hand 
I placed the eggs in it and packed them round with a little moss. 
As I went down the ravine the banks became higher, and 
sixty yards from where I had entered it I came on a deep drop 
of some twelve to fourteen feet. The water that rushes down 
all these hill ravines in the rains had worn the rock as smooth 
as glass, and as it was too steep to offer a foothold I handed 
the rifle to the men and, sitting on the edge, proceeded to slide 
down. My feet had hardly touched the sandy bottom when the 
two men, with a flying leap, landed one on either side of me, 
and thrusting the rifle into my hand asked in a very agitated 
manner if I had heard the tiger. As a matter of fact I had heard 
nothing, possibly due to the scraping of my clothes on the rocks, 
and when questioned, the men said that what they had heard 
was a deep-throated growl from somewhere close at hand, but 
exactly from which direction the sound had come, they were 
unable to say. Tigers do not betray their presence by growing 
when looking for their dinner and the only, and very unsatis- 
factory, explanation I can offer is that the tigress followed us 
after we left the open ground, and on seeing that we were going 
down the ravine had gone ahead and taken up a position where 
the ravine narrowed to half its width; and that when she was 
on the point of springing out on me, I had disappeared out of 
sight down the slide and she had involuntarily given vent to 
her disappointment with a low growl. Not a satisfactory reason, 
unless one assumes without any reason that she had selected 
me for her dinner, and therefore had no interest in the two men. 
Where the three of us now stood in a bunch we had the 
smooth steep rock behind us, to our right a wall of rock slightly 
leaning over the ravine and fifteen feet high, and to our left a 

The Chowgarh Tigers 91 

tumbled bank of big rocks thirty or forty feet high. The 
sandy bed of the ravine, on which we were standing, was 
roughly forty feet long and ten feet wide. At the lower end 
of this sandy bed a great pine tree had fallen across, damming 
the ravine, and the collection of the sand was due to this dam. 
The wall of overhanging rock came to an end twelve or fifteen 
feet from the fallen tree, and as I approached the end of the 
rock, my feet making no sound on the sand, I very fortunately 
noticed that the sandy bed continued round to the back of the 

This rock about which I have said so much I can best describe 
as a giant school slate, two feet thick at its lower end, and 
standing up not quite perpendicularly on one of its long sides. 

As I stepped clear of the giant slate, I looked behind me over 
my right shoulder and looked straight into the tigress's face. 

I would like you to have a clear picture of the situation. 

The sandy bed behind the rock was quite flat. To the 
right of it was the smooth slate fifteen feet high and leaning 
slightly outwards, to the left of it was a scoured-out steep bank 
also some fifteen feet high overhung by a dense tangle of thorn 
bus^yes, while at the far end was a slick similar to, but a little 
higher than, the one I had glissaded down. The sandy bed, 
enclosed by these three natural walls, was about twenty feet 
long and half as wide, and lying on it, with her fore-paws 
stretched out and her hind legs well tucked under her, was the 
tigress. Her head, which was raised a few inches off her paws, 
was eight feet (measured later) from me, and on her face was 
a smile, similar to that one sees on the face of a dog welcoming 
his master home after a long absence. 

Two thoughts flashed through my mind, one, that it was 
up to me to make the first move, and the other, that the move 
would have to be made in such a manner as not to alarm the 
tigress or make her nervous. 

The rifle was in my right hand held diagonally across my 

92 Man-eaters of Kumdon 

chest, with the safety-catch off, and in order to get it to bear 
on the tigress the muzzle would have to be swung round three- 
quarters of a circle. 

The movement of swinging round the rifle, with one hand, 
was begun very slowly, and hardly perceptibly, and when a 
quarter of a circle had been made, the stock came in contact 
with my right side. It was now necessary to extend my arm, 
and as the stock cleared my side, the swing was very slowly 
continued. My arm was now at full stretch and the weight of 
the rifle was beginning to tell. Only a little further now for 
the muzzle to go, and the tigress who had not once taken her 
eyes off mine was still looking up at me, with the pleased 
expression still on her face. 

How long it took the rifle to make the three-quarter circle, 
I am not in a position to say. To me, looking into the tigress's 
eyes and unable therefore to follow the movement of the barrel, 
it appeared that my arm was paralysed, and that the swing 
would never be completed. However, the movement was com- 
pleted at last, and as soon as the rifle was pointing at the 
tigress's body, I pressed the trigger. 

I heard the report, exaggerated in that restricted space, and 
felt the jar of the recoil, and but for these tangible proofs that 
the rifle had gone off, I might, for all the immediate result the 
shot produced, have been in the grip of one of those awful 
nightmares in which triggers are vainly pulled of rifles that 
refuse to be discharged at the critical moment. 

For a perceptible fraction of time the tigress remained 
perfectly still, and then, very slowly, her head sank on to her 
outstretched paws, while at the same time a jet of blood issued 
from the bullet-hole. The bullet had injured her spine and 
shattered the upper portion of her heart. 

The two men who were following a few yards behind me, 
and who were separated from the tigress by the thickness of 
the rock, came to a halt when they saw me stop and turn my 

The Chowgarh Tigers 95 

head. They knew instinctively that I had seen the tigress and 
judged from my behaviour that she was close at hand, and 
Madho Singh said afterwards that he wanted to call out and 
tell me to drop the eggs and get both hands on the rifle. When 
I had fired my shot and lowered the point of the rifle on to 
my toes, Madho Singh, at a sign, came forward to relieve me 
of it, for very suddenly my legs appeared to be unable to sup- 
port me, so I made for the fallen tree and sat down. Even 
before looking at the pads of her feet I knew it was the Chow- 
garh tigress I had sent to the Happy Hunting Grounds, and 
that the shears that had assisted her to cut the threads of sixty- 
four human lives the people of the district put the number at 
twice that figure had, while the game was in her hands, 
turned, and cut the thread of her own life. 

Three things, each of which would appear to you to have 
been to my disadvantage, were actually in my favour. These 
were (a) the eggs in my left hand, (b) the light rifle I was 
carrying, and (c) the tiger being a man-eater. If I had not had 
the eggs in my hand I should have had both hands on the rifle, 
and when I looked back and saw the tiger at such close quarters 
I should instinctively have tried to swing round to face her, 
and the spring that was arrested by my lack of movement would 
inevitably have been launched. Again, if the rifle had not been 
a light one it would not have been possible for me to have 
moved it in the way it was imperative I should move it, and 
then discharge it at the full extent of my arm. And lastly, if 
the tiger had been just an ordinary tiger, and not a man-eater, 
it would, on finding itself cornered, have made for the opening 
and wiped me out of the way; and to be wiped out of the way 
by a tiger usually has fatal results. 

While the men made a detour and went up the hill to free 
the buffalo and secure the rope, which was needed for another 
and more pleasant purpose, I climbed over the rocks and went 
up the ravine to restore the eggs to their rightful owner. I 

94 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

plead guilty of being as superstitious as my brother sportsmen. 
For three long periods, extending over a whole year, I had tried 
and tried hard to get a shot at the tigress, and had failed; 
and now within a few minutes of having picked up the eggs 
my luck had changed. 

The eggs, which all this time had remained safely in the 
hollow of my left hand, were still warm when I replaced them 
in the little depression in the rock that did duty as a nest, and 
when I again passed that way half an hour later, they had 
vanished under the brooding mother whose colouring so exactly 
matched the mottled rock that it was difficult for me, who 
knew the exact spot where the nest was situated, to distinguish 
her from her surroundings. 

The buffalo, who after months of care was now so tame 
that it followed like a dog, came scrambling down the hill in 
the wake of the men, nosed the tigress and lay down on the 
sand to chew the cud of contentment, while we lashed the 
tigress to the stout pole the men had cut. 

I had tried to get Madho Singh to return to the bungalow 
for help, but this he would not hear of doing. With no one 
would he and his companion share the honour of carrying in 
the man-eater, and if I would lend a hand the task, he said, 
with frequent halts for rest, would not be too difficult. We 
were three hefty men two accustomed from childhood to carry- 
ing heavy loads and all three hardened by a life of exposure; 
but even so, the task we set ourselves was a herculean one. 

The path down which we had come was too narrow and 
too winding for the long pole to which the tigress was lashed, 
so, with frequent halts to regain breath and readjust pads to 
prevent the pole biting too deep into shoulder muscles, we went 
straight up the hill through a tangle of raspberry and briar 
bushes, on the thorns of which we left a portion of our clothing 
and an amount of skin which made bathing for many days a 
painful operation. 

The Bachelor of Powalgarh 95 

The sun was still shining on the surrounding hills when 
three dishevelled and very happy men, followed by a buffalo, 
carried the tigress to the Kala Agar Forest Bungalow, and from 
that evening to this day no human being has been killed or 
wounded over the hundreds of square miles of mountain and 
vale over which the Chowgarh tigress, for a period of five years, 
held sway. 

I have added one more cross and date to the map of Eastern 
Kumaon that hangs on the wall before me the cross and the 
date the man-eater earned. The cross is two miles west of Kala 
Agar, and the date under it is n April 1930. 

The tigress's claws were broken, and bushed out, and one 
of her canine teeth was broken, and her front teeth were worn 
down to the bone. It was these defects that had made her 
a man-eater and were the cause of her not being able to kill 
outright and by her own efforts a large proportion of the 
human beings she had attacked since the day she had been 
deprived of the assistance of the cub I had, on my first visit, 
shot by mistake. 


THREE miles from our winter home, and in the heart of the 
forest, there is an open glade some four hundred yards long 
and half as wide, grassed with emerald-green and surrounded 
with big trees interlaced with cane creepers. It was in this 
glade, which for beauty has no equal, that I first saw the tiger 
who was known throughout the United Provinces as 'The 
Bachelor of Powalgarh', who from 1920 to 1930 was the most 
sought-after big-game trophy in the province. 

The sun had just risen one winter's morning when I crested 
the high ground overlooking the glade. On the far side, a 

96 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

score of red jungle fowl were scratching among the dead leaves 
bordering a crystal-clear stream, and scattered over the emerald- 
green grass, now sparkling with dew, fifty or more chital were 
feeding. Sitting on a tree stump and smoking, I had been 
looking at this scene for some time when the hind nearest to 
me raised her head, turned in my direction and called; and a 
moment later the Bachelor stepped into the open, from the thick 
bushes below me. For a long minute he stood with head held 
high surveying the scene, and then with slow unhurried steps 
started to cross the glade. In his rich winter coat, which the 
newly risen sun was lighting up, he was a magnificent sight as, 
with head turning now to the right and now to the left, he 
walked down the wide lane the deer had made for him. At 
the stream he lay down and quenched his thirst, then sprang 
across and, as he entered the dense tree jungle beyond, called 
three times in acknowledgement of the homage the jungle folk 
had paid him, for from the time he had entered the glade every 
chital had called, every jungle fowl had cackled, and every one 
of a troupe of monkeys on the trees had chattered. 

The Bachelor was far afield that morning, for his home was 
in a ravine six miles away. Living in an area in which the 
majority of tigers are bagged with the aid of elephants, he had 
chosen his home wisely. The ravine, running into the foot-hills, 
was half a mile long, with steep hills on either side rising to a 
height of a thousand feet. At the upper end of the ravine there 
was a waterfall some twenty feet high, and at the lower end, 
where the water had cut through red clay, it narrowed to four 
feet. Any sportsman, therefore, who wished to try conclusions 
with the Bachelor, while he was at home, would of a necessity 
have to do so on foot. It was this secure retreat, and the 
Government rules prohibiting night shooting, that had enabled 
the Bachelor to retain possession of his much sought-after skin. 

In spite of the many and repeated attempts that had been 
made to bag him with the aid of buffalo bait, the Bachelor had 

The Bachelor of Powalgarh 97 

never been fired at, though on two occasions, to my knowledge, 
he had only escaped death by the skin of his teeth. On the 
first occasion, after a perfect beat,, a guy rope by which the 
machan was suspended interfered with the movementof Fred 
Anderson's rifle at the_cjjjjcal moment, and ocT the second. 
occasion |the Bachelor arrived at the machan before the beat 
started and found Huish Edye filling his pipej On both these 
occasions he had been viewed at a range of only a few feet, and 
while Anderson described him as being as big as a Shetland 
pony, Edye said he was as big as a donkey. 

The winter following these and other unsuccessful attempts, 
I took Wyndham, our Commissioner, who knows more about 
tigers than any other man in India, to a fire track skirting the 
upper end of the ravine in which the Bachelor lived, to show 
him the fresh pug marks of the tiger which I had found on the 
fire track that morning. Wyndham was accompanied by two 
of his most experienced shikaris, and after the three of them had 
carefully measured and examined the pug marks, Wyndham 
said that in his opinion the tiger was ten feet between pegs, and 
while one shikari said he was 10' 5" over curves, the other said 
he was 10' 6" or a little more. All three agreed that they had 
never seen the pug marks of a bigger tiger. 

In 1930 the Forest Department started extensive fellings in 
the area surrounding the Bachelor's home and annoyed at the 
disturbance he changed his quarters; this I learnt from two 
sportsmen who had taken out a shooting pass with the object 
of hunting down the tiger. Shooting passes are only issued for 
fifteen days of each month, and throughout that winter, shooting 
party after shooting party failed to make contact with the tiger. 

Towards the end of the winter an old dak runner, who 
passes our gate every morning and evening on his seven-mile 
run through the forest to a hill village, came to me one evening 
and reported that on his way out that morning he had seen the 
biggest pug marks of a tiger that he had seen during the thirty 

98 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

years of his service. The tiger, he said, had come from the 
west and after proceeding along the road for two hundred yards 
had gone east, taking a path that started from near an almond 
tree. This tree was about two miles from our home, and was a 
well-known landmark. The path the tiger had taken runs 
through very heavy jungle for half a mile before crossipg a wide 
watercourse, and then joins a cattle track which skirts the foot 
of the hills before entering a deep and well-wooded valley; a 
favourite haunt of tigers. 

Early next morning, with Robin at my heels, I set out to 
prospect, my objective being the point where the cattle track 
entered the valley, for at this point the tracks of all the animals 
entering or leaving the valley are to be found. From the time 
we started Robin appeared to know that we had a special job 
in hand and he paid not the least attention to the jungle fowl 
we disturbed, the kakar (barking deer) that let us get quite 
close to it, and the two sambur that stood and belled at us. 
Where the cattle track entered the valley the ground was hard 
and stony, and when we reached this spot Robin put down his 
head and very carefully smelt the stones, and on receiving a 
signal from me to carry on he turned and started down the 
track, keeping a yard ahead of me; I could tell from his be- 
haviour that he was on the scent of a tiger, and that the scent 
was hot. A hundred yards further down, where the track 
flattens out and runs along the foot of the hill, the ground is 
soft; here I saw the pug marks of a tiger, and a glance at them 
satisfied me we were on the heels of the Bachelor and that he 
was only a minute or two ahead of us. 

Beyond the soft ground the track runs for three hundred 
yards over stones, before going steeply down onto an open plain. 
If the tiger kept to the track we should probably see him on this 
open ground. We had gone another fifty yards when Robin 
stopped and, after running his nose up and down a blade of 
grass on the left of the track, turned and entered the grass which 

The Bachelor of Powalgarh 99 

was here about two feet high. On the far side of the grass there 
was a patch of clerodendron, about forty yards wide. This plant 
grows in dense patches to a height of five feet, and has widely 
spread leaves and a big head of flowers not unlike horse-chest- 
nut. It is greatly fancied by tiger, sambur and pig because of the 
shade it gives. When Robin reached the clerodendron he stopped 
and backed towards me, thus telling me that he could not see 
into the bushes ahead and wished to be carried. Lifting him up, 
I put his hind legs into my left-hand pocket, and when he had 
hooked his forefeet over my left arm, he was safe and secure, 
and I had both hands free for the rifle. On these occasions 
Robin was always in deadly earnest, and no matter what he 
saw, or how our quarry behaved before or after fired at, he 
never moved and spoilt my shot, or impeded my view. Proceed- 
ing very slowly, we had gone half-way through the clerodendron 
when I saw the bushes directly in front of us swaying. Waiting 
until the tiger had cleared the bushes, I went forward expecting 
to see him in the more or less open jungle, but he was nowhere 
in sight, and when I put Robin down he turned to the left and 
indicated that the tiger had gone into a deep and narrow ravine 
nearby. This ravine ran to the foot of an isolated hill on which 
there were caves frequented by tigers, and as I was not armed 
to deal with a tiger at close quarters, and further, as it was 
time for breakfast, Robin and I turned and made for home. 

After breakfast I returned alone, armed with a heavy .450 
rifle, and as I approached the hill, which in the days of the 
long ago had been used by the local inhabitants as a rallying 
point against the Gurkha invaders, I heard the boom of a big 
buffalo bell, and a man shouting. These sounds were coming 
from the top of the hill, which is flat, and about half an acre 
in extent, so I climbed up and saw a man on a tree, striking a 
dead branch with the head of his axe and shouting, while at the 
foot of the tree a number of buffaloes were collected. When 
he saw me the man called out, saying I had just arrived in 

100 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

time to save him and his buffaloes from a shaitan of a tiger, 
the size of a camel, that had been threatening them for hours. 
From his story I gathered that he had arrived on the hill shortly 
after Robin and I had left for home, and that as he started to 
cut bamboo leaves for his buffaloes he saw a tiger coming to- 
wards him. He shouted to drive the tiger away, as he had done 
on many previous occasions with other tigers, but instead of 
going away this one had started to growl. He took to his heels, 
followed by his buffaloes, and climbed up the nearest tree. The 
tiger, paying no heed to his shouts, had then set to pacing round 
and round, while the buffaloes kept their heads towards it. 
Probably the tiger had heard me coming, for it had left only a 
moment before I had arrived. The man was an old friend, who 
before his quarrel with the Headman of his village had done a 
considerable amount of poaching in these jungles with the 
Headman's gun. He now begged me to conduct both himself 
and his cattle safely out of the jungle; so telling him to lead on, 
I followed behind to see that there were no stragglers. At first 
the buffaloes were disinclined to break up their close formation, 
but after a little persuasion we got them to start, and we had 
gone half-way across the open plain I have alluded to when the 
tiger called in the jungle to our right. The man quickened his 
pace, and I urged on the buffaloes, for a mile of very thick 
jungle lay between us and the wide, open watercourse beyond 
which lay my friend's village and safety for his buffaloes. 

I have earned the reputation of being keener on photograph- 
ing animals than on killing them, and before I left my friend 
he begged me to put aside photography for this once, and kill 
the tiger, which he said was big enough to eat a buffalo a day, 
and ruin him in twenty-five days. I promised to do my best 
and turned to retrace my steps to the open plain, to meet with 
an experience every detail of which has burnt itself deep into 
my memory. 

On reaching the plain I sat down to wait for the tiger to 

The Bachelor of Powalgarh 101 

disclose his whereabouts, or for the jungle folk to tell me where 
he was. It was then about 3 p.m., and as the sun was warm 
and comforting, I put my head down on my drawn-up knees 
and had been dozing a few minutes when I was awakened by the 
tiger calling; thereafter he continued to call at short intervals. 

Between the plain and the hills there is a belt, some half- 
mile wide, of the densest scrub jungle for a hundred miles 
round, and I located the tiger as being on the hills on the far 
side of the scrub about three-quarters of a mile from me 
and from the way he was calling it was evident he was in 
search of a mate. 

Starting from the upper left-hand corner of the plain, and 
close to where I was sitting, an old cart track, used some years 
previously for extracting timber, ran in an almost direct line to 
where the tiger was calling. This track would take me in the 
direction of the calling animal, but on the hills was high grass, 
and without Robin to help me there would be little chance of 
my seeing him. So instead of my going to look for the tiger, 
I decided he should come and look for me. I was too far away 
for him to hear me, so I sprinted up the cart track for a few 
hundred yards, laid down my rifle, climbed to the top of a high 
tree and called three times. I was immediately answered by the 
tiger. , After climbing down, I ran back, calling as I went, and 
shrived on the plain without having found a suitable place in 
which to sit and await the tiger. Something would have to be 
done and done in a hurry, for the tiger was rapidly coming 
nearer, so, after rejecting a little hollow which I found to be 
full of black stinking water, I lay down flat in the open, twenty 
yards from where the track entered the scrub. From this point 
I had a clear view up the track for fifty yards, to where a bush, 
leaning over it, impeded my further view. If the tiger came 
down the track, as I expected him to, I decided to fire at him 
as soon as he cleared the obstruction. 

After opening the rifle to make quite sure it was loaded, 

102 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

I threw off the safety-catch, and with elbows comfortably resting 
on the soft ground waited for the tiger to appear. I had not 
called since I came out on the plain, so to give him direction 
I now gave a low call, which he immediately answered from 
a distance of a hundred yards. If he came on at his usual pace, 
I judged he would clear the obstruction in thirty seconds. I 
counted this number very slowly, and went on counting up 
to eighty, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement 
to my right front, where the bushes approached to within ten 
yards of me. Turning my eyes in that direction I saw a great 
head projecting above the bushes, which here were four feet 
high. The tiger was only a foot or two inside the bushes, but 
all I could see of him was his head. As I very slowly swung 
the point of the rifle round and ran my eyes along the sights I 
noticed that his head was not quite square on to me, and as I 
was firing up and he was looking down, I aimed an inch below 
his right eye, pressed the trigger, and for the next half -hour 
nearly died of fright. 

Instead of dropping dead as I expected him to, the tiger went 
straight up into the air above the bushes for his full length, 
falling backwards onto a tree a foot thick which had been blown 
down in a storm and was still green. With unbelievable fury 
he attacked this tree and tore it to bits, emitting as he did so 
roar upon roar, and what was even worse, a dreadful blood- 
curdling sound as though he was savaging his worst enemy. 
The branches of the tree tossed about as though struck by a 
tornado, while the bushes on my side shook and bulged out, 
and every moment I expected to have him on top of me, for he 
had been looking at me when I fired, and knew where I was. 

Too frightened even to recharge the rifle for fear the slight 
movement and sound should attract the attention of the tiger, I 
lay and sweated for half an hour with my finger on the left trig- 
ger. At last the branches of the tree and the bushes ceased 
waving about, and the roaring became less frequent, and 

The Bachelor of Powalgarh 103 

eventually, to my great relief, ceased. For another half-hour 
I lay perfectly still, with arms cramped by the weight of the 
heavy rifle, and then started to pull myself backwards with my 
toes. After progressing for thirty yards in this manner I got 
to my feet, and, crouching low, made for the welcome shelter of 
the nearest tree. Here I remained for some minutes, and as 
all was now silent I turned and made for home. 


Next morning I returned accompanied by one of my men, 
an expert tree-climber. I had noticed the previous evening that 
there was a tree growing on the edge of the open ground, and 
about forty yards from where the tiger had fallen. We 
approached this tree very cautiously, and I stood behind it while 
the man climbed to the top. After a long and a careful scrutiny 
he looked down and shook his head, and when he rejoined me 
on the ground he told me that the bushes over a big area had 
been flattened down, but that the tiger was not in sight. 

I sent him back to his perch on the tree with instructions 
to keep a sharp lookout and warn 'me if he saw any movement 
in the bushes, and went forward to have a look at the spot 
where the tiger had raged. He had raged to some purpose, for, 
in addition to tearing branches and great strips of wood off the 
tree, he had torn up several bushes by the roots, and bitten 
down others. Blood in profusion was sprinkled everywhere, 
and on the ground were two congealed pools, near one of which 
was lying a bit of bone two inches square, which I found on 
examination to be part of the tiger's skull. 

No blood trail led away from this spot and this, combined 
with the two pools of blood, was proof that the tiger was still 
here when I left and that the precautions I had taken the previ- 
ous evening had been very necessary, for when I started on 
my ' get-away ' I was only ten yards from the most dangerous 
animal in the world a freshly wounded tiger. On circling 

104 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

round the spot I found a small smear of blood here and there 
on leaves that had brushed against his face. Noting that these 
indications of the tiger's passage led in a direct line to a giant 
semul tree l two hundred yards away, I went back and climbed 
the tree my man was on in order to get a bird's-eye view of the 
ground I should have to go over, for I had a very uneasy 
feeling that I should find him alive: a tiger shot in the head can 
live for days and can even recover from the wound. True, 
this tiger had a bit of his skull missing, and as I had never 
dealt with an animal in his condition before I did not know 
whether he was likely to live for a few hours or days, or live 
on to die of old age. For this reason I decided to treat him as 
an ordinary wounded tiger, and not to take any avoidable risks 
when following him up. 

From my elevated position on the tree I saw that, a little 
to the left of the line to the semul tree, there were two trees, 
the nearer one thirty yards from where the blood was, and the 
other fifty yards further on. Leaving my man on the tree, I 
climbed down, picked up my rifle and a shot-gun and bag of a 
hundred cartridges, and very cautiously approached the nearer 
tree and climbed up it to a height of thirty feet, pulling the 
rifle and gun, which I had tied to one end of a strong cord, 
up after me. After fixing the rifle in a fork of the tree where 
it would be handy if needed, I started to spray the bushes with 
small shot, yard by yard up to the foot of the second tree. I 
did this with the object of locating the tiger, assuming he was 
alive and in that area, for a wounded tiger, on hearing a shot 
fired close to him, or on being struck by a pellet, will either 
growl or charge. Receiving no indication of the tiger's presence 
I went to the second tree, and sprayed the bushes to within a 
few yards of the semul tree, firing the last shot at the tree itself. 
After this last shot I thought I heard a low growl, but it was 
not repeated and I put it down to my imagination. My bag of 
1 Bombax malabaricum, the silk cotton tree. 

The Bachelor of Powalgarh 105 

cartridges was now empty, so after recovering my man I called 
it a day, and went home. 

When I returned next morning I found my friend the buffalo 
man feeding his buffaloes on the plain. He appeared to be very 
much relieved to see me, and the reason for this I learnt later. 
The grass was still wet with dew, but we found a dry spot and 
there sat down to have a smoke and relate our experiences. My 
friend, as I have already told you, had done a lot of poaching, 
and having spent all his life in tiger-infested jungles tending his 
buffaloes, or shooting, his jungle knowledge was considerable. 

After I had left him that day at the wide, open water-course, 
he had crossed to the far side and had sat down to listen for 
sounds coming from the direction in which I had gone. He 
had heard two tigers calling; he had heard my shot followed 
by the continuous roaring of a tiger, and very naturally con- 
cluded I had wounded one of the tigers and that it had killed 
me. On his return next morning to the same spot, he had been 
greatly mystified by hearing a hundred shots fired, and this 
morning, not being able to contain his curiosity any longer, he 
had come to see what had happened. Attracted by the smell of 
blood, his buffaloes had shown him where the tiger had fallen, 
and he had seen the patches of dry blood and had found the bit 
of bone. No animal in his opinion could possibly live for more 
than a few hours after having a bit of its skull blown away, and 
so sure was he that the tiger was dead that he offered to take 
his buffaloes into the jungle and find it for me. I had heard of 
this method of recovering tigers with the help of buffaloes but 
had never tried it myself, and after my friend had agreed to 
accepting compensation for any damage to his cattle I accepted 
his offer. 

Rounding up the buffaloes, twenty-five in number, and keep- 
ing to the line I had sprinkled with shot the previous day, we 
made for the semul tree, followed by the buffaloes. Our pro- 
gress was slow, for not only had we to move the chin-high 

106 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

bushes with our hands to see where to put our feet, but we also 
had frequently to check a very natural tendency on the part of 
the buffaloes to stray. As we approached the semul tree, where 
the bushes were lighter, I saw a little hollow filled with dead 
leaves that had been pressed flat and on which were several 
patches of blood, some dry, others in process of congealing, and 
one quite fresh; and when I put my hand to the ground I found 
it was warm. Incredible as it may appear, the tiger had lain 
in this hollow the previous day while I had expended a hundred 
cartridges, and had only moved off when he saw us and the 
buffaloes approaching. The buffaloes had now found the blood 
and were pawing up the ground and snorting, and as the pros- 
pect of being caught between a charging tiger and angry buffa- 
loes did not appeal to me, I took hold of my friend's arm, 
turned him round and made for the open plain, followed by the 
buffaloes. When we were back on safe ground I told the man 
to go home, and said I would return next day and deal with 
the tiger alone. 

The path through the jungles that I had taken each day 
when coming from and going home ran for some distance over 
soft ground, and on this soft ground, on this fourth day, I saw 
the pug marks of a big male tiger. By following these pug 
marks I found the tiger had entered the dense brushwood a 
hundred yards to the right of the semul tree. Here was an 
unexpected complication, for if I now saw a tiger in this jungle 
I should not know unless I got a very close look at it whether 
it was the wounded or the unwounded one. However, this 
contingency would have to be dealt with when met, and in the 
meantime worrying would not help, so I entered the bushes and 
made for the hollow at the foot of the semul tree. 

There was no blood trail to follow so I zigzagged through 
the bushes, into which it was impossible to see further than a 
few inches, for an hour or more, until I came to a ten-foot-wide 
dry watercourse. Before stepping down into this watercourse 

The Bachelor of Powalgarh 107 

I looked up it, and saw the left hind leg and tail of a tiger. 
The tiger was standing perfectly still with its body and head 
hidden by a tree, and only this one leg visible. I raised the 
rifle to my shoulder, and then lowered it. To have broken the 
leg would have been easy, for the tiger was only ten yards away, 
and it would have been the right thing to do if its owner was 
the wounded animal; but there were two tigers in this area, and 
to have broken the leg of the wrong one would have doubled 
my difficulties, which were already considerable. Presently the 
leg was withdrawn and I heard the tiger moving away, and going 
to the spot where he had been standing I found a few drops of 
blood too late now to regret not having broken that leg. 

A quarter of a mile further on there was a little stream, and 
it was possible that the tiger, now recovering from his wound, 
was making for this stream. With the object of intercepting 
him or failing that, waiting for him at the water, I took a game 
path which I knew went to the stream and had proceeded along 
it for some distance when a sambur belled to my left, and went 
dashing off through the jungle. It was evident now that I was 
abreast of the tiger, and I had only taken a few more steps when 
I heard the loud crack of a dry stick breaking as though some 
heavy animal had fallen on it; the sound had come from a 
distance of fifty yards and from the exact spot where the sambur 
had belled. The sambur had in unmistakable tones warned 
the jungle folk of the presence of a tiger, and the stick therefore 
could only have been broken by the same animal; so getting 
down on my hands and knees I started to crawl in the direction 
from which the sound had come. 

The bushes here were from six to eight feet high, with 
dense foliage on the upper branches and very few leaves on the 
stems, so that I could see through them for a distance of ten 
to fifteen feet. I had covered thirty yards, hoping fervently 
that if the tiger charged he would come from in front (for in 
no other direction could I have fired), when I caught sight of 

108 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

something red on which the sun, drifting through the upper 
leaves, was shining; it might only be a bunch of dead leaves; 
on the other hand, it might be the tiger. I could get a better 
view of this object from two yards to the right so, lowering my 
head until my chin touched the ground, I crawled this distance 
with belly to ground, and on raising my head saw the tiger 
in front of me. He was crouching down looking at me, with 
the sun shining on his left shoulder, and on receiving my two 
bullets he rolled over on his side without making a sound. 

As I stood over him and ran my eyes over his magnificent 
proportions it was not necessary to examine the pads of his feet 
to know that before me lay the Bachelor of Powalgarh. 

The entry of the bullet fired four days previously was hidden 
by a wrinkle of skin, and at the back of his head was a big 
hole which, surprisingly, was perfectly clean and healthy. 

The report of my rifle was, I knew, being listened for, so I 
hurried home to relieve anxiety, and while I related the last 
chapter of the hunt and drank a pot of tea my men 
were collecting. 

Accompanied by my sister and Robin and a carrying party 
of twenty men, I returned to where the tiger was lying, and 
before he was roped to a pole my sister and I measured him 
from nose to tip of tail, and from tip of tail to nose. At home 
we again measured him to make quite sure we had made no 
mistake the first time. These measurements are valueless, for 
there were no independent witnesses present to certify them; 
they are however interesting as showing the accuracy with which 
experienced woodsmen can judge the length of a tiger from his 
pug marks. Wyndham, you will remember, said the tiger was 
ten feet between pegs, which would give roughly 10' 6" over 
curves; and while one shikari said he was 10' 5" over curves, 
the other said he was 10' 6" or a little more. Shot seven years 
after these estimates were made, my sister and I measured the 
tiger as being 10' 7" over curves. 

The Mohan Man-eater 109 

I have told the story at some length, as I feel sure that those 
who hunted the tiger between 1920 and 1930 will be interested 
to know how the Bachelor of Powalgarh met his end. 


EIGHTEEN miles from our summer home in the Himalayas 
there is a long ridge running east and west, some 9,000 feet 
in height. On the upper slopes of the eastern end of this ridge 
there is a luxuriant growth of oat grass; below this grass the 
hill falls steeply away in a series of rock cliffs to the Kosi river 

One day a party of women and girls from the village on the 
north t f ace of the ridge were cutting the oat grass, when a tiger 
suddenly appeared in their midst. In the stampede that 
followed an elderly woman lost her footing, rolled down the 
steep slope, and disappeared over the cliff. The tiger, evidently 
alarmed by the screams of the women, vanished as mysteriously 
as it had appeared, and when the women had reassembled and 
recovered from their fright, they went down the grassy slope 
and, looking over the cliff, saw their companion lying on a 
narrow ledge some distance below them. 

The woman said she was badly injured it was found later 
that she had broken a leg and fractured several ribs and that 
she could not move. Ways and means of a rescue were dis- 
, cussed, and it was finally decided that it was a job for men; 
and as no one appeared to be willing to remain at the spot, they 
informed the injured woman that they were going back to the 
village for help. The woman begged not to be left alone, how- 
ever, and at her entreaty a girl, sixteen years of age, volunteered 
to stay with her. So, while the rest of the party set off for the 
village, the girl made her way down to the right, where a rift 
in the cliff enabled her to get a foothold on the ledge. 

110 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

This ledge only extended half-way across the face of the 
cliff and ended, a few yards from where the woman was lying, 
in a shallow depression. Fearing that she might fall off the 
ledge and be killed on the rocks hundreds of feet below the 
woman asked the girl to move her to this depression, and this 
difficult and dangerous feat the girl successfully accomplished. 
There was only room for one in the depression, so that the girl 
squatted, as only an Indian can squat, on the ledge facing the 

The village was four miles away, and once, and once again, 
the two on the ledge speculated as to the length of time it 
would take their companions to get back to the village; what 
men they were likely to find in the village at that time of day; 
how long it would take to explain what had happened, and 
finally, how long it would take the rescue party to arrive. 

Conversation had been carried on in whispers for fear the 
tiger might be lurking in the vicinity and hear them and then, 
suddenly, the woman gave a gasp and the girl, seeing the look 
of horror on her face and the direction in which she was look- 
ing, turned her head and over her shoulder saw the tiger, 
stepping out of the rift in the cliff onto the ledge. 

Few of us, I imagine, have escaped that worst of all night- 
mares in which, while our limbs and vocal cords are paralysed 
with fear, some terrible beast in monstrous form approaches to 
destroy us; the nightmare from which, sweating fear in every 
pore, we waken with a cry of thankfulness to Heaven that it 
was only a dream. There was no such happy awakening from 
the nightmare of that unfortunate girl, and little imagination is 
needed to picture the scene. A rock cliff with a narrow ledge 
running partly across it and ending in a little depression in 
which an injured woman is lying; a young girl frozen with ter- 
jor squatting on the ledge, and a tiger slowly creeping towards 
her; retreat in every direction cut off, and no help at hand. 

Mothi Singh, an old friend of mine, was in the village 

The Mohan Man-eater 111 

visiting a sick daughter when the women arrived, and he headed 
the rescue party. When this party went down the grassy slope 
and looked over the cliff, they saw the woman lying in a swoon, 
and on the ledge they saw splashes of blood. 

The injured woman was carried back to the village, and 
when she had been revived and had told her story, Mothi Singh 
set out on his eighteen-mile walk to me. He was an old man 
well over sixty, but he scouted the suggestion that he was tired 
and needed a rest, so we set off together to make investigations. 
But there was nothing that I could do, for twenty-four hours 
had elapsed and all that the tiger had left of the brave young 
girl, who had volunteered to stay with her injured companion, 
were a few bits of bone and her torn and blood-stained clothes. 

This was the first human being killed by the tiger which 
later received recognition in Government records as ' The Mohan 
Man-eater ' . 

After killing the girl, the tiger went down the Kosi valley 
for the winter, killing on its way among other people two 
men of the Public Works Department, and the daughter-in-law 
of our member of the Legislative Council. As summer 
approached it returned to the scene of its first kill, and for 
several years thereafter its beat extended up and down the Kosi 
valley from Kakrighat to Gargia a distance of roughly forty 
miles until it finally took up its quarters on the hill above 
Mohan, in the vicinity of a village called Kartkanoula. 

At the District Conference, to which reference has been made 
in a previous story, the three man-eating tigers operating at that 
time in the Kumaon Division were classed as follows in their 
order of importance: 

ist Chowgarh, Naini Tal District. 
2nd Mohan, Almora District. 
3rd Kanda, Garhwal District. 

After the Chowgarh tiger had been accounted for I was 

112 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

reminded by Baines, Deputy Commissioner, Almora, that only 
a part of my promise made at the conference had been fulfilled, 
and that the Mohan tiger was next on the list. The tiger, he 
stated, was becoming more active and a greater menace every 
day, and had during the previous week killed three human 
beings, residents of Kartkanoula village. It was to this village 
Baines now suggested I should go. 

While I had been engaged with the Chowgarh tiger, Baines 
had persuaded some sportsmen to go to Kartkanoula, but though 
they had sat up over human and animal kills they had failed to 
make contact with the man-eater and had returned to their 
depot at Ranikhet. Baines informed me I should now have the 
ground to myself a very necessary precaution, for nerves wear 
thin when hunting man-eaters, and accidents are apt to result 
when two or more parties are hunting the same animal. 


It was on a blistering hot day in May that I, my two servants, 
and the six Garhwalis I had brought with me from Naini Tal 
alighted from the i p.m. train at Ramnagar and set off on our 
twenty-four-mile foot journey to Kartkanoula. Our first stage 
was only seven miles, but it was evening before we arrived at 
Gargia. I had left home in a hurry on receiving Baines 1 letter, 
and had not had time to ask for permission to occupy the Gargia 
Forest Bungalow, so I slept out in the open. 

On the far side of the Kosi river at Gargia there is a cliff 
several hundred feet high, and while I was trying to get sleep 
I heard what I thought were stones falling off the cliff on the 
rocks below. The sound was exactly the same as would be 
made by bringing two stones violently together. After some 
time this sound worried me, as sounds will on a hot night, and 
as the moon was up and the light good enough to avoid 
stepping on snakes, I left my camp bed and set out to make 
investigations. I found that the sound was being made by a 

The Mohan Man-eater 113 

colony ofjrogs in a marsh by the side of the road. I have heard 
land-, water- and tree-frogs making strange sounds in different 
parts of the world, but I have never heard anything so strange 
as the sound made by the frogs at Gargia in the month of May. 

After a very early start next morning we did the twelve 
miles to Mohan before the sun got hot, and while my men 
were cooking their food and my servants were preparing my 
breakfast, the chowkidar of the bungalow, two Forest Guards, 
and several men from the Mohan bazaar, entertained me with 
stories of the man-eater, the most recent of which concerned 
the exploits of a fisherman who had been fishing the Kosi river. 
One of the Forest Guards claimed to be the proud hero of this 
exploit, and he described very graphically how he had been 
out one day with the fisherman and, on turning a bend in the 
river, they had come face to face with the man-eater; and how 
the fisherman had thrown away his rod and had grabbed the 
rifle off his the Forest Guard's shoulder; and how they had 
run for their lives with the tiger close on their heels. ' Did 
you look back?' I asked. 'No, sahib/ said he, pitying my 
ignorance. ' How could a man who was running for his life 
from a man-eater look back?'; and how the fisherman, who 
was leading by a head, in a thick patch of grass had fallen over 
a sleeping bear, after which there had been great confusion and 
shouting and everyone, including the bear, had run in different 
directions and the fisherman had got lost; and how after a long 
time the fisherman had eventually found his way back to the 
bungalow and had said a lot to him the Forest Guard on the 
subject of having run away with his rifle and left him empty- 
handed to deal with a man-eating tiger and an angry bear. The 
Forest Guard ended up his recital by saying that the fisherman 
had left Mohan the following day saying that he had hurt his 
leg when he fell over the bear, and that anyway there were 
no fish to be caught in the Kosi river. 

By midday we were ready to continue our journey, and, 


114 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

with many warnings from the small crowd that had collected 
to see us off to keep a sharp lookout for the man-eater while 
going through the dense forest that lay ahead of us, we set out 
on our four-thousand-foot climb to Kartkanoula. 
1 Our progress was slow, for my men were carrying heavy 
loads and the track was excessively steep, and the heat terrific. 
There had been some trouble in the upper villages a short time 
previously, necessitating the dispatch from Naini Tal of a small 
police force, and I had been advised to take everything I needed 
for myself and my men with me, as owing to the unsettled con- 
ditions it would not be possible to get any stores locally. This 
was the reason for the heavy loads my men were carrying. 

After many halts we reached the edge of the cultivated land 
in the late afternoon, and as there was now no further danger 
to be apprehended for my men from the man-eater, I left them 
and set out alone for the Foresters' Hut which is visible from 
Mohan, and which had been pointed out to me by the Forest 
Guards as the best place for my stay while at Kartkanoula. 

The hut is on the ridge of the high hill overlooking Mohan, 
and as I approached it along the level stretch of road running 
across the face of the hill, in turning a corner in a ravine where 
there is some dense undergrowth, I came on a woman filling 
an earthenware pitcher from a little trickle of water flowing 
down a wooden trough. Apprehending that my approach on 
rubber-soled shoes would frighten her, I coughed to attract her 
attention, noticed that she started violently a*s I did so, and a 
few yards beyond her, stopped to light a cigarette. A minute 
or two later I asked, without turning my head, if it was safe 
for anyone to be in this lonely spot, and after a little hesitation 
the woman answered that it was not safe, but that water had 
to be fetched and as there was no one in the home to accompany 
her, she had come alone. Was there no man? Yes, there was 
a man, but he was in the fields ploughing, and in any case it 
was the duty of women to fetch water. How long would it 

The Mohan Man-eater H5 

take to fill the pitcher? Only a little longer. The woman had; 
got over her fright and shyness, and I was now subjected to $ 
close cross-examination. Was I a policeman? No. Was I a 
Forest Officer? No, Then who was I? Just a man. Why 
had I come? To try and help the people of Kartkanoula. In 
what way? By shooting the man-eater. Where had I heard 
about the man-eater? Why had I come alone? Where were 
my men? How many were there? How long would I stay? 
And so on. 

The pitcher was not declared full until the woman had 
satisfied her curiosity, and as she walked behind me she pointed 
to one of several ridges running down the south face of the hill, 
and pointing out a big tree growing on a grassy slope said that 
three days previously the man-eater had killed a woman under 
it; this tree I noted, with interest, was only two or three hundred 
yards from my objective the Foresters' Hut. We had now 
come to a footpath running up the hill, and as she took it the 
woman said the village from which she had come was just round 
the shoulder of the hill, and added that she was now quite safe. 

Those of you who know the women of India will realize 
that I had accomplished a lot, especially when it is remembered 
that there had recently been trouble in this area with the police. 
So far from alarming the woman and thereby earning the 
hostility of the entire countryside I had, by standing by while* 
she filled her pitcher and answering a few questions, gained 
a friend who would in the shortest time possible acquaint the 
whole population of the village of my arrival; that I was not 
an officer of any kind, and that the sole purpose of my visit was 
to try to rid them of the man-eater. 


The Foresters' Hut was on a little knoll some twenty yards 
to the left of the road, and as the door was only fastened with 
91 chain I opened it and walked inside. The room was about 

116 Man-eaters of Knmaon 

iien feet square and quite clean, but had a mouldy disused 
smell; I learnt later that the hut had not been occupied since 
the advent of the man-eater in that area eighteen months 
previously. On either side of the main room there were two 
narrow slips of rooms, one used as a kitchen, and the other 
as a fuel store. The hut would make a nice safe shelter for 
my men, and having opened the back door to let a current of 
air blow through the room, I went outside and selected a spot 
between the hut and the road for my 40-lb. tent. There was no 
furniture of any kind in the hut, so I sat down on a rock near 
the road to await the arrival of my men. 

The ridge at this point was about fifty yards wide, and as 
tjxe hut was on the south edge of the ridge, and the village on 
ttie north face of the hill, the latter was not visible from the 
former. I had been sitting on the rock for about ten minutes 
when a head appeared over the crest from the direction of the 
village, followed by a second and a third. My friend the water- 
carrier had not been slow in informing the village of my arrival. 

When strangers meet in India and wish to glean information 
on any particular subject from each other, it is customary to 
refrain from broaching the subject that has brought them 
together whether accidentally or of set purpose until the very 
last moment, and to fill up the interval by finding out everything 
concerning each other's domestic and private affairs; as for 
instance, whether married and if so the number and sex of 
children and their ages; if not married, why not; occupation 
and amount of pay, and so on. Questions that would in any 
other part of the world earn one a thick ear are in India and 
especially in our hills asked so artlessly and universally that no 
one who has lived among the people dreams of taking offence 
at them. 

In my conversation with the woman I had answered many 
of the set questions, and the ones of a domestic nature which 
it is not permissible for a woman to ask of a man were being 

The Mohan Man-eater 117 

put to me when my men arrived. They had filled a kettle at 
the little spring, and in an incredibly short time dry sticks were 
collected, a fire lit, the kettle boiled, and tea and biscuits pro- 
duced. As I opened a tin of condensed milk I heard the men 
asking my servants why condensed milk was being used instead 
of fresh milk and receiving the answer that there was no fresh 
milk; and further that, as it had been apprehended that owing 
to some previous trouble in this area no fresh milk would 
be available, a large supply of tinned milk had been brought. 
The men appeared to be very distressed on hearing this and 
after a whispered conversation one of them, who I learnt later 
was the Headman of Kartkanoula, addressed me and said it 
was an insult to them to have brought tinned milk, when all 
the resources of the village were at my disposal. I admitted 
my mistake, which I said was due to my being a stranger to 
that locality, and told the Headman that if he had any milk 
to spare I would gladly purchase a small quantity for my daily 
requirements, but that beyond the milk, I wanted for nothing. 

My loads had now been unstrapped, while more men had 
arrived from the village, and when I told my servants where 
I wanted them to pitch my tent there was a horrified exclama- 
tion from the assembled villagers. Live in a tent indeed! 
Was I ignorant of the fact that there was a man-eating tiger in 
this area and that it used this road regularly every night? If I 
doubted their word, let me come and see the claw marks on the 
doors of the houses where the road ran through the upper end 
of the village. Moreover, if the tiger did not eat me in the 
tent it would certainly eat my men in the hut, if I was not 
there to protect them. This last statement made my men prick 
up their ears and add their entreaties to the advice of the 
villagers, so eventually I agreed to stay in the main room, 
while my two servants occupied the kitchen, and the six 
Garhwalis the fuel store. 

The subject of the man-eater having been introduced, it was 

118 Man-eaters of Kumaofi 

now possible for me to pursue it without admitting that it was 
the one object I had wished to introduce from the moment 
the first man had put his head over the ridge. The path leading 
down to the tree where the tiger had claimed its last victim was 
pointed out to me, and the time of day, and the circumstances 
tinder which the woman had been killed, explained. The 
road along which the tiger came every night, I was informed, 
tan eastward to Baital Ghat with a branch down to Mohan, and 
westward to Chaknakl on the Ramganga river. The road going 
west, after running through the upper part of the village and 
through cultivated land for half a mile, turned south along the 
face of the hill, and on rejoining the ridge on whigh the hut 
was, followed the ridge right down to Chaknakl. This portion 
of the road between Kartkanoula and Chaknakl, some six miles 
long, was considered to be very dangerous, and had not been 
used since the advent of the man-eater; I subsequently found 
that after leaving the cultivated land the road entered dense tree 
and scrub jungle, which extended right down to the river. 

The main cultivation of Kartkanoula village is on the north 
face of the hill, and beyond this cultivated land there are several 
small ridges with deep ravines between. On the nearest of these 
ridges, and distant about a thousand yards from the Foresters' 
Hut, there is a big pine tree. Near this tree, some ten days 
previously, the tiger had killed, partly eaten and left, a woman, 
and as the three sportsmen who were staying in a Forest 
Bungalow four miles away were unable to climb the pine tree the 
villagers had put up three machans in three separate trees, at 
distances varying from one hundred to one hundred and fifty 
yards from the kill, and the machans had been occupied by the 
sportsmen and their servants a little before sunset. There was a 
young moon at the time, and after it had set the villagers heard 
a number of shots being fired, and when they questioned the 
servants next morning the servants said they did not know what 
had been fired at for they themselves had not seen anything. 

The Mohan Man-eater 119 

Two days later a cow had been- killed over which the sportsmen 
had sat /and again; as on the previous occasion, shots had been 
fired after the moon had set. It is these admittedly sporting 
but unsuccessful attempts to bag man-eaters that makes them 
so wary, and the more difficult to shoot the longer they live.* 

The villagers gave me one very interesting item of news in 
connexion with the tiger. They said they always knew when 
it had come into the village by the low moaning sound it made. 
On questioning them closely I learnt that at times the sound 
was continuous as the tiger passed between the houses, while 
at other times the sound stopped for sometimes short, and other 
times long periods. 

From this information I concluded (a) that the tiger was 
suffering from a wound, (b) that the wound was of such a 
nature that the tiger only felt it when in motion, and that 
therefore, (c) the wound was in one of its legs. I was assured 
that the tiger had not been wounded by any local shikari, or 
by any of the sportsmen from Ranikhet who had sat up for it; 
however, this was of little importance, for the tiger had been 
a man-eater for years, and the wound that I believed it was 
suffering from might have been the original cause of its be- 
coming a man-eater. A very interesting point and one that 
could only be cleared up by examining the tiger after it 
was dead. 

The men were curious to know why I was so interested in 
the sound made by the tiger, and when I told them that it 
indicated the animal had a wound in one of its legs and that 
the wound had been caused either by a bullet, or porcupine 
quills, they disagreed with my reasoning and said that on the 
occasions they had seen the tiger it appeared to be in sound 
condition, and further, that the ease with which it killed and 
carried off its victims was proof that it was not crippled in any 
way. However, what I told them was remembered and later 
earned me the reputation of being gifted with second sight. 

120 Man-eaters of Kumaon 


When passing through Ramnagar I had asked the Tahsildar 
to purchase two young male buffaloes for me and to send them 
to Mohan, where my men would take them over. 

I told the villagers I intended tying up one of the buffaloes 
near the tree where three days previously the woman had been 
killed and the other on the road to Chaknakl, and they said 
they could think of no better sites, but that they would talk 
the matter over among themselves, and let me know in the 
morning if they had any other suggestions to make. Night was 
now drawing in, and before leaving the Headman promised 
to send word to all the adjoining villages in the morning to let 
them know of my arrival, the reason for my coming, and to 
impress on them the urgency of letting me know without loss 
of time of any kills, or attacks by the tiger in their areas. 

The musty smell in the room had much decreased though 
it was still noticeable. However, I paid no attention to it, and 
after a bath and dinner put two stones against the doors there 
being no other way of keeping them shut and being bone-tired 
after my day's exertions went to bed and to sleep. I am a 
light sleeper, and two or three hours later I awoke on hearing 
an animal moving about in the jungle. It came right up to 
the back door. Getting hold of a rifle and a torch, I moved 
the stone aside with my foot and heard an animal moving off 
as I opened the door it might from the sound it was making 
have been the tiger, but it might also have been a leopard or 
a porcupine. However, the jungle was too thick for me to see 
what it was. Back in the room and with the stone once more 
in position, I noticed I had developed a sore throat, which I 
attributed to having sat in the wind after the hot walk up from 
Mohan; but when my servant pushed the door open and brought 
in my early-morning cup of tea, I found I was suffering from 
an attack of laryngitis, due possibly to my having slept in 
a long-disused hut, the roof of which was swarming with bats. 

The Mohan Man-eater 121 

My servant informed me that * he and his companion had 
escaped infection, but that the six Garhwalis in the fuel store 
were all suffering from the same complaint as I was. My stock 
of medicine consisted of a two-ounce bottle of iodine and a few 
tablets of quinine, and on rummaging in my gun-case I found 
a small paper packet of permanganate which my sister had 
provided for me on a previous occasion. The packet was soaked 
through with gun oil, but the crystals were still soluble, and 
I put a liberal quantity of the crystals into a tin of hot water, 
together with some iodine. The resulting gargle was very 
potent, and while it blackened our teeth it did much to relieve 
the soreness in our throats. 

After an early breakfast I sent four men down to Mohan 
to bring up the two buffaloes, and myself set off to prospect 
the ground where the woman had been killed. From the direc- 
tions I had received overnight I had no difficulty in finding the 
spot where the tiger had attacked and killed the woman, as she 
was tying the grass she had cut into a bundle. The grass, and 
the rope she was using, were lying just as they had been left, 
as were also two bundles of grass left by her companions when 
they had run off in fright to the village. The men had told 
me that the body of the woman had not been found, but from 
the fact that three perfectly good lengths of rope and the dead 
woman's sickle had been left in the jungle, I am inclined to 
think that no attempt had been made to find her. 

The woman had been killed at the upper end of a small 
landslide, and the tiger had taken her down the slide and into* 
a thick patch of undergrowth. Here the tiger had waited, 
possibly to give the two women time to get out of sight, and 
had then crossed the ridge visible from the hut, after which it 
had gone with its kill straight down the hill for a mile or more 
into dense tree and scrub jungle. The tracks were now four 
days old, and as there was nothing to be gained by following 
them further, I turned back to the hut. 

122 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

'. The climb back to the ridge was a very steep one, and when 
I reached the hut at about midday I found an array of pots and 
pans of various shapes and sizes on the verandah, all containing 
milk. In contrast to the famine of the day before there was 
now abundance, sufficient milk in fact for me to have bathed 
in. My servants informed me they had protested to no effect 
and that each man had said, as he deposited his vessel on the 
verandah, that he would take good care that I used no more 
condensed milk while I remained in their midst. 

I did not expect the men to return from Mohan with the 
buffaloes before nightfall, so after lunch I set out to have a 
look at the road to Chaknakl. 

From the hut the hill sloped gradually upwards to a height 
of about five hundred feet, and was roughly triangular in shape. 
The road, after running through cultivated land for half a mile, 
turned sharply to the left, went across a steep rocky hill until 
it regained the ridge, and then turned to the right and followed 
the ridge down to Chaknakl. The road was level for a short 
distance after coming out on the ridge, and then went steeply 
down, the gradient in places being eased by hairpin bends. 

I had the whole afternoon before me, and examined about 
three miles of the road very carefully. When a tiger uses a 
road regularly it invariably leaves signs of its passage by making 
scratch marks on the side of the road. These scratch marks, 
made for the same purpose as similar marks made by domestic 
cats and all other members of the cat family, are of very great 
interest to the sportsman, for th<ey provide him with the follow- 
ing very useful information, ~{/L) whether the animal that has 
made the mark is a male or a female, ^(4) the direction in which 
it was travelling, (3^ the length of time that has elapsed since 
it passed, (4)- the direction and approximate distance of its head- 
quarters, (5} the nature of its kills, and finally \6) whether the 
animal has recently had a meal of human flesh. The value of 
this easily-acquired information to one who is hunting a man- 

The Mohan Man-eater 123 

ekter on strange ground will be easily understood. Tigers 
leave their pug marks on the roads they use and these pug marks 
can provide one with quite a lot of useful information, as for 
instance the direction and speed at which the animal was 
travelling, its sex and age, whether all four limbs are sound, 
and if not sound, wjudx^particular limb, is.. defective. 

The road I was on had through long disuse got overgrown 
with short stiff grass and was therefore not, except in one or 
two damp places, a good medium on which to leave pug marks. 
One of these "damp places was within a few yards of where the 
road came out on the ridge, and just below this spot there was 
a green and very stagnant pool of water; a regular drinking 
place for sambur. 

I found several scratch marks just round the corner where 
the road turned to the left after leaving the cultivated ground, 
the most recent of which was three days old. Two hundred 
yards from these scratch marks the road, for a third of its width, 
ran under an overhanging rock. This rock was ten feet high 
and at the top of it there was a flat piece of ground two or three 
yards wide, which was only visible from the road when 
approaching the rock from the village side. On the ridge I 
found more scratch marks, but I did not find any pug marks 
until I got to the first hairpin bend. Here, in cutting across the 
bend, the tiger had left its tracks where it had jumped down 
onto some soft earth. The tracks, which were a day old, were 
a little distorted, but even so it was possible to see that they 
had been made by a big, old, male tiger. 

When one is moving in an area in which a man-eating tiger 
is operating progress is of necessity very slow, for every 
obstruction in one's line of walk, be it a bush, a tree, rock, or 
an inequality in the ground capable of concealing death, has 
to be cautiously approached, while at the same time, if a wind 
is not blowing and there was no wind that evening a careful 
and constant lookout has to be maintained behind and on either 

124 Man-eaters of Kumaori 

side. Further, there was much of interest to be looked at, 
for it was the month of May, when orchids at this elevation 
4,000 to 5,000 feet are at their best, and I have never seen a 
greater variety or a greater wealth of bloom than the forests on 
that hill had to show. The beautiful white butterfly orchid 
was in greatest profusion, and every second tree of any size 
appeared to have decked itself out with them. 

It was here that I first saw a bird that Prater of the Bombay 
Natural History Society later very kindly identified for me as 
the Mountain Crag Martin, a bird of a uniform ash colour, 
with a slight tinge of pink on its breast, and in size a little 
smaller than a Rosy Pastor. These birds had their broods with 
them, and while the young ones four to a brood sat in a row 
on a dry twig at the top of a high tree, the parent birds kept 
darting away often to a distance of two or three hundred yards 
to catch insects. The speed at which they flew was amazing, 
and I am quite sure there is nothing in feathers in North India, 
not excluding our winter visitor the great Tibetan Swallow, that 
these Martins could not make rings round. Another thing about 
these birds that was very interesting was their wonderful eye- 
sight. On occasions they would fly in a dead straight line for 
several hundred yards before turning and coming back. It was 
not possible, at the speed they were going, that they were chas- 
ing insects on these long flights, and as after each flight the bird 
invariably thrust some minute object into one of the gaping 
mouths, I believe they were able to see insects at a range at 
which they would not have been visible to the human eye 
through the most powerful field-glasses. 

Safeguarding my neck, looking out for tracks, enjoying nature 
generally, and listening to all the jungle sounds a sambur a 
mile away down the hillside in the direction of Mohan was 
warning the jungle folk of the presence of a tiger, and a kakar 
and a langur (Entellus monkey) on the road to Chaknakl were 
warning other jungle folk of the presence of a leopard time 

The Mohan Man-eater 125 

passed quickly, and I found myself back at the overhanging 
rock as the sun was setting. As I approached this rock I 
marked it as being quite the most dangerous spot in all the 
ground I had so far gone over. A tiger lying on the grass- 
covered bit of ground above the rock would only have to wait 
until anyone going either up or down the road was under or 
had passed it to have them at his mercy a very dangerous spot 
indeed, and one that needed remembering. 

When I got back to the hut I found the two buffaloes had 
arrived, but it was too late to do anything with them that 

My servants had kept a fire going most of the day in th4 
hut, the air of which was now sweet and clean, but even so 
I was not going to risk sleeping in a closed room again; so I 
made them cut two thorn bushes and wedge them firmly into 
the doorways before going to bed. There was no movement 
in the jungle near the back door that night, and after a sound 
sleep I woke in the morning with my throat very much better. 

I spent most of the morning talking to the village people 
and listening to the tales they had to tell of the man-eater and 
the attempts that had been made to shoot it, and after lunch 
I tied up one buffalo on the small ridge the tiger had crossed 
when carrying away the woman, and the other at the hairpin 
bed where I had seen the pug marks. 

Next morning I found both buffaloes sleeping peacefully after 
having eaten most of the big feed of grass I had provided them 
with. I had tied bells round the necks of both animals, and the 
absence of any sound from these bells as I approached each 
buffalo gave me two disappointments for, as I have said, I found 
both of them asleep. That evening I changed the position of 
the second buffalo from the hairpin bend to where the road came 
out on the ridge, close to the pool of stagnant water. 

The methods most generally employed in tiger shooting can 
briefly be described as (a) sitting up, and (6) beating, and 

126s Man-eaters of Kumaon 

young male buffaloes are used as bait in both cases. The 
procedure followed is to select the area most convenient -for 
a sit-up, or for a beat, and to tie the bait out in the late evening 
using a rope which the bait cannot, but which the tiger can, 
break; and when the bait is taken to either sit up over the kill 
on a machan in a tree, or beat the cover into which the kill 
has been taken. 

In the present case neither of these methods was feasible. 
My throat, though very much better, was still sore and it would 
not have been possible for me to have sat up for any length 
of time without coughing, and a beat over that vast area of 
heavily wooded and broken ground would have been hopeless 
even if I had been able to muster a thousand men, so I decided 
to stalk the tiger, and to this end carefully sited my two buffaloes 
and tied them to stout saplings with four one-inch-thick hemp 
ropes, and left them out in the jungle for the whole twenty- 
four hours. 

I now stalked the buffaloes in turn each morning as soon as 1 
there was sufficient light to shoot by, and again in the evening, 
for tigers, be they man-eaters or not, kill as readily in the day as 
they do at night in areas in which they are not disturbed, and 
during the day, while I waited for news from outlying villages, 
nursed my throat, and rested, my six Garhwalis fed and watered 
the buffaloes. 

On the fourth evening when I was returning at sunset after 
visiting the buffalo on the ridge, as I came round a bend in the' 
road thirty yards from the overhanging rock, I suddenly, and 
for the first time since my arrival at Kartkanoula, felt I was 
in danger, and that the danger that threatened me was on the 
rock in front of me. For five minutes I stood perfectly still 
with my eyes fixed on the upper edge of the rock, watching 
for movement. At that short range the flicker of an eyelid 
would have caught my eyes, but there was not even this small 
movement; and after going forward ten paces, I again stood 

The Mohan Man-eater 127 

watching for several minutes. The fact that I had seen no 
movement did not in any way reassure me the man-eater was 
on the rock, of that I was sure; and the question was, what was 
I going to do about it? The hill, as I have already told you, 
was very steep, had great rocks jutting out of it, and was 
overgrown with long grass and tree and scrub jungle. Bad as 
the going was, had it been earlier in the day I would have gone 
back and worked round and above the tiger to try to get a* 
shot at him, but with only half an hour of daylight left, and 
the best part of a mile still to go, it would have been madness 
to have left the road. So, slipping up the safety-catch and 
putting the rifle to my shoulder, I started to pass the rock. 

The road here was about eight feet wide, and going to the 
extreme outer edge I started walking crab-fashion, feeling each 
step with my feet before putting my weight down to keep from 
stepping off into space. Progress was slow and difficult, but 
as I drew level with the overhanging rock and then began to 
pass it, hope rose high that the tiger would remain where he 
was until I reached that part of the road from which the flat 
bit of ground above the rock, on which he was lying, was 
visible. The tiger, however, having failed to catch me off my 
guard was taking no chances, and I had just got clear of the 
rock when I heard a low muttered growl above me, and a little 
later first a kakar went off barking to the right, and then two 
hind sambur started belling near the crest of the triangular 

The tiger had got away with a sound skin, but for the 
matter of that, so had I, so there was no occasion for regrets, 
and from the place on the hill where the sambur said he was, 
I felt sure he would hear the bell I had hung round the neck 
of the buffalo that was tied on the ridge near the stagnant 

When I reached the cultivated land I found a group of men 
waiting for me. They had heard the kakar and sambur and 

128 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

were very disappointed that I had not seen the tiger, but cheered 
up when I told them I had great hopes for the morrow. 

During the night a dust-storm came on, followed by heavy 
rain, and I found to my discomfort that the roof of the hut 
was very porous. However, I eventually found a spot where 
it was leaking less than in others, dragged my camp bed to 
it and continued my sleep. It was a brilliantly clear morning 
when I awoke; the rain had washed the heat haze and dust 
out of the atmosphere, and every leaf and blade of grass was 
glistering in the newly risen sun. 

Hitherto I had visited the nearer buffalo first, but this morn- 
ing I had an urge to reverse the daily procedure, and after 
instructing my men to wait until the sun was well up and then 
go to feed and water the nearer buffalo, I set off with high 
hopes down the Chaknakl road; having first cleaned and oiled 
my 450/400 rifle a very efficient weapon, and a good and 
faithful friend of many years' standing. 

The overhanging rock that I passed with such trouble the 
previous evening did not give me a moment's uneasiness now, 
and after passing it I started looking for tracks, for the rain had 
softened the surface of the road. I saw nothing however until 
I came to the damp place on the road, which, as I have said, 
was on the near side of the ridge and close to the pool where the 
buffalo was tied. Here in the soft earth I found the pug marks 
of the tiger, made before the storm had come on, and going in 
the direction of the ridge. Close to this spot there is a rock 
about three feet high, on the khud side of the road. On the 
previous occasions that I had stalked down the road I had 
found that by standing on this rock I could look over a hump 
in the road and see the buffalo where it was tied forty yards 
away. When I now climbed on to the rock and slowly raised 
my head, I found that the buffalo had gone. This discovery 

The Mohan Man-eater 129 

was as disconcerting as it was inexplicable. To prevent the* 
tiger from carrying the buffalo away to some distant part of 
the jungle, where the only method of getting a shot would 
have been by sitting up on the ground or in a tree a hopeless 
proceeding with my throat in the condition it was in I had 
used four thicknesses of strong one-inch-thick hemp rope, and 
even so the tiger had got away with the kill. 

I was wearing the thinnest of rubber-soled shoes, and very 
silently I approached the sapling to which the buffalo had been 
tied and examined the ground. The buffalo had been killed 
before the storm, but had been carried away after the rain had 
stopped, without any portion of it having been eaten. Three 
of the ropes I had twisted together had been gnawed through, 
and the fourth had been broken. Tigers do not usually gnaw 
through ropes; however, this one had done so, and had carried 
off the kill down the hill facing Mohan. My plans had been 
badly upset, but very fortunately the rain had come to my 
assistance. The thick carpet of dead leaves which the day before 
had been as dry as tinder were now wet and pliable, and pro- 
vided I made no mistakes, the pains the tiger had been to in 
getting away with the kill might yet prove his undoing. 

When entering a jungle in which rapid shooting might at 
any moment become necessary, I never feel happy until I have 
reassured myself that my rifle is loaded. To pull a trigger in 
an emergency and wake up in the Happy Hunting Grounds 
or elsewhere because one had omitted to load a weapon, would 
be one of those acts of carelessness for which no excuse could 
be found; so though I knew I had loaded my rifle before I came 
to the overhanging rock, I now opened it and extracted the 
cartridges. I changed one that was discoloured and dented, 
and after moving the safety-catch up and down several times 
to make sure it was working smoothly I have never carried a 
cocked weapon I set off to follow the drag. 

This word 'drag', when it is used to describe the mark left 

130 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

on the ground by a tiger when it is moving its kill from one 
place to another, is misleading, for a tiger when taking its kill 
any distance (I have seen a tiger cany a full-grown cow for four 
miles) does not drag it, it carries it; and if the kill is too heavy 
to be carried, it is left. The drag is distinct or faint according 
to the size of the animal that is being carried, and the manner 
in which it is being held. For instance, assuming the kill is a 
sambur and the tiger is holding it by the neck the hind quarters 
will trail on the ground leaving a distinct drag mark. On the other 
hand, if the sambur is being held by the middle of the back, 
there may be a faint drag mark, or there may be none at all. 
In the present case the tiger was carrying the buffalo by the 
neck, and the hind quarters trailing on the ground were leaving 
a drag mark it was easy to follow. For a hundred yards the 
tiger went diagonally across the face of the hill until he came to 
a steep clay bank. In attempting to cross this bank he had 
slipped and relinquished his hold of the kill, which had rolled 
down the hill for thirty or forty yards until it had fetched up 
against a tree. On recovering the kill the tiger picked it up by 
the back, and from now on only one leg occasionally touched 
the ground, leaving a faint drag mark, which nevertheless, 
owing to the hillside being carpeted with bracken, was not 
very difficult to follow. In his fall the tiger had lost direction, 
and he now appeared to be undecided where to take the kill. 
First he went a couple of hundred yards to the right, then a 
hundred yards straight down the hill through a dense patch of 
ringals (stunted bamboo). After forcing his way with consider- 
able difficulty through the ringals he turned to the left and went 
diagonally across the hill for a few hundred yards until he came 
to a great rock, to the right of which he skirted. This rock 
was flush with the ground on the approach side, and, rising 
gently for twenty feet, appeared to project out over a hollow 
or dell of considerable extent. If there was a cave or recess 
under the projection, it would be a very likely place for the 

The Mohan Man-eater 131 

tiger to have taken his kill to, so leaving the drag I stepped on 
to the rock and moved forward very slowly, examining every 
yard of ground below, and on either side of me, as it came into 
view. On reaching the end of the projection and looking over 
I was disappointed to find that the hill came up steeply to meet 
the rock, and that there was no cave or recess under it as I 
had expected there would be. 

As the point of the rock offered a good view of the dell and 
of the surrounding jungle and was comparatively safe from 
an attack from the man-eater I sat down; and as I did so, I 
caught sight of a red and white object in a dense patch of short 
undergrowth, forty or fifty yards directly below me. When one 
is looking for a tiger in heavy jungle everything red that 
catches the eye is immediately taken for the tiger, and here, not 
only could I see the red of the tiger, but I could also see his 
stripes. For a long minute I watched the object intently, and 
then, as the face you are told to look for in a freak picture 
suddenly resolves itself, I saw that the object I was looking at 
was the kill, and not the tiger; the red was blood where he had 
recently been eating, and the stripes were the ribs from which 
he had torn away the skin. I was thankful for having held my 
fire for that long minute, for in a somewhat similar case a friend 
of mine ruined his chance of bagging a very fine tiger by putting 
two bullets into a kill over which he had intended sitting; 
fortunately he was a good shot, and the two men whom he had 
sent out in advance to find the kill and put up a machan over 
it, and who were, at the time he fired, standing near the kill 
screened by a bush, escaped injury. 

When a tiger that has not been disturbed leaves his kill out 
in the open, it can be assumed that he is lying up close at hand 
to guard the kill from vultures and other scavengers, and the 
fact that I could not see the tiger did not mean that he was 
not lying somewhere close by in the dense undergrowth. 

Tigers are troubled by flies and do not lie long in one 

132 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

position, so I decided to remain where I was and watch for 
movement; but hardly had I come to this decision, when I felt 
an irritation in my throat. I had not quite recovered from my 
attack of laryngitis and the irritation grew rapidly worse until 
it became imperative for me to cough. The usual methods one 
employs on these occasions, whether in church or the jungle, 
such as holding the breath and swallowing hard, gave no relief 
until it became a case of cough, or burst; and in desperation I 
tried to relieve my throat by giving the alarm-call of the langur. 
Sounds are difficult to translate into words and for those of you 
who are not acquainted with our jungles I would try to describe 
this alarm-call, which can be heard for half a mile, as khok, 
khok, khofy, repeated again and again at short intervals, and 
ending up with khokorror. All langurs do not call at tigers, but 
the ones in our hills certainly do, and as this tiger had -probably 
heard the call every day of his life it was the one sound I could 
make to which he would not pay the slightest attention. My 
rendering of the call in this emergency did not sound very con- 
vincing, but it had the desired effect of removing the irritation 
from my throat. 

For half an hour thereafter I continued to sit on the rock, 
watching for movement and listening for news from the jungle 
folk, and when I had satisfied myself that the tiger was not 
anywhere within my range of vision, I got off the rock, and, 
moving with the utmost caution, went down to the kill. 


I regret I am not able to tell you what weight of flesh a 
full-grown tiger can consume at a meal, but you will have 
some idea of his capacity when I tell you he can eat a sambur 
in two days, and a buffalo in three, leaving possibly a small 
snack for the fourth day. 

The buffalo I had tied up was not full-grown but he was 
by no means a small animal, and the tiger had eaten 

The Mohan Man-eater 133 

approximately half of him. With a meal of that dimension 
inside of him I felt sure he had not gone far, and as the ground 
was still wet, and would remain so for another hour or two, I 
decided to find out in what direction he had gone, and if pos- 
sible, stalk him. 

There was a confusion of tracks near the kill but by going 
round in widening circles I found the track the tiger had made 
when leaving. Soft-footed animals are a little more difficult to 
track than hard-footed ones, yet after long years of experience 
tracking needs as little effort as a gun dog exerts when following 
a scent. As silently and as slowly as a shadow I took up the 
track, knowing that the tiger would be close at hand. When 
I had gone a hundred yards I came on a flat bit w of ground, 
twenty feet square, and carpeted with that variety of short soft 
grass that has highly scented roots; on this grass the tiger had 
lain, the imprint of his body being clearly visible. 

As I was looking at the imprint and guessing at the size of 
the animal that had made it, I saw some of the blades of grass 
that had been crushed down, spring erect. This indicated that 
the tiger had been gone only a minute or so. 

You will have some idea of the lay-out when I tell you 
that the tiger had brought the kill down from the north, and 
on leaving it had gone west, and that the rock on which I had 
sat, the kill, and the spot where I was now standing, formed 
the points of a triangle, one side of which was forty yards, and 
the other two sides a hundred yards long. 

My first thought on seeing the grass spring erect was that 
the tiger had seen me and moved off, but this I soon found 
was not likely, for neither the rock nor the kill was visible 
from the grass plot, and that he had not seen me and moved 
after I had taken up his track I was quite certain. Why then 
had he left his comfortable bed and gone away? The sun 
shining on the back of my neck provided the answer. It was 
now nine o'clock of an unpleasantly hot May morning, and a 

134 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

glance at the sun and the tree-tops over which it had come 
showed that it had been shining on the grass for ten minutes. 
The tiger had evidently found it too hot, and gone away a few 
minutes before my arrival to look for a shady spot. 

I have told you that the grass plot was twenty feet square. 
On the far side to that from which I had approached there was 
a fallen tree, lying north and south. This tree was about four 
feet in diameter, and as it was lying along the edge of the grass 
plot in the middle of which I was standing, it was ten feet away 
from me. The root end of the tree was resting on the hillside, 
which here went up steeply and was overgrown with brushwood, 
and the branch end (which had been snapped off when the tree 
had fallen) was projecting out over the hillside. Beyond the 
tree the hill appeared to be more or less perpendicular, and 
running across the face of it was a narrow ledge of rock, which 
disappeared into dense jungle thirty yards further on. 

If my surmise, that the sun had been the cause of the tiger 
changing his position, was correct, there was no more suitable 
place than the lee of the tree for him to have taken shelter in, 
and the only way of satisfying myself on this point was, to walk 
up to the tree and look over. Here a picture seen long years 
ago in Punch flashed into memory. The picture was of a lone 
sportsman who had gone out to hunt lions and who on glancing 
up, on to the rock he was passing, looked straight into the 
grinning face of the most enormous lion in Africa. Underneath 
the picture was written, ' When you go out looking for a lion, 
be quite sure that you want to see him'. True, there would 
be this small difference, that whereas my friend in Africa looked 
up into the lion's face, I would look down into the tiger's; 
otherwise the two cases assuming that the tiger was on the far 
side of the tree would be very similar. 

Slipping my feet forward an inch at a time on the soft grass, 
I now started to approach the tree, and had covered about 
half the distance that separated me from it when I caught sight 

The Mohan Man-eater 135 

of a black-and-yellow object about three inches long on the 
rocky ledge, which I now saw was a well-used game path. For 
a long minute I stared at this motionless object, until I was 
convinced that it was the tip of the tiger's tail. If the tail was 
pointing away from me the head must obviously be towards 
me, and as the ledge was only some two feet wide, the tiger 
could only be crouching down and waiting to spring the moment 
my head appeared over the bole of the tree. The tip of the 
tail was twenty feet from me, and allowing eight feet for the 
tiger's length while crouching, his head would be twelve feet 
away. But I should have to approach much nearer before I 
should be able to see enough of his body to get in a crippling 
shot, and a crippling shot it would have to be if I wanted to 
leave on my feet. And now, for the first time in my life, I 
regretted my habit of carrying an uncocked rifle. The safety- 
catch of my 450/400 makes a very distinct click when thrown 
off, and to make any sound now would either bring the tiger 
right on top of me, or send him straight down the steep hillside 
without any possibility of my getting in a shot. 

Inch by inch I again started to creep forward, until the whole 
of the tail, and after it the hind quarters, came into view. When 
I saw the hind quarters, I could have shouted with delight, for 
they showed that the tiger was not crouching and ready to 
spring, but was lying down. As there was only room for his 
body on the two-foot-wide ledge, he had stretched his hind legs 
out and was resting them on the upper branches of an oak 
sapling growing up the face of the almost perpendicular hillside. 
Another foot forward and his belly came into view, and from the 
regular way in which it was heaving up and down I knew that he 
was asleep. Less slowly now I moved forward, until his shoul- 
der, and then his whole length, was exposed to my view. The 
back of his head was resting on the edge of the grass plot, which 
extended for three or four feet beyond the fallen tree; his eyes 
were fast shut, and his nose was pointing to heaven. 

136 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

Aligning the sights of the rifle on his forehead I pressed the 
trigger and, while maintaining a steady pressure on it, pushed 
up the safety-catch. I had no idea how this reversal of the 
usual method of discharging a rifle would work, but it did work; 
and when the heavy bullet at that short range crashed into 
his forehead not so much as a quiver went through his body. 
His tail remained stretched straight out; his hind legs continued 
to rest on the upper branches of the sapling; and his nose still 
pointed to heaven. Nor did his position change in the slightest 
when I sent a second, and quite unnecessary, bullet to follow 
the first. The only change noticeable was that his stomach had 
stopped heaving up and down, and that blood was trickling 
down his forehead from two surprisingly small holes. 

I do not know how the close proximity of a tiger reacts on 
others, but me it always leaves with a breathless feeling due 
possibly as much to fear as to excitement and a desire for a 
little rest. I sat down on the fallen tree and lit the cigarette 
I had denied myself from the day my throat had got bad, and 
allowed my thoughts to wander. Any task well accomplished 
gives satisfaction, and the one just completed was no exception. 
The reason for my presence at that spot was the destruction of 
,the man-eater, and from the time I had left the road two hours 
previously right up to the moment I pushed up the safety-catch 
everything including the langur call had worked smoothly 
and without a single fault. In this there was great satisfaction, 
the kind of satisfaction I imagine an author must feel when he 
writes FINIS to the plot that, stage by stage, has unfolded itself 
just as he desired it to. In my case, however, the finish had 
not been satisfactory, for I had killed the animal, that was 
lying five feet from me, in his sleep. 

My personal feelings in the matter are I know of little interest 
.to others, but it occurs to me that possibly you also might think 
and in that case I should like to put the 

arguments before you that I used on myself, in the hope that 

The Mohan Man-eater 137 

you will find tlfem more satisfactory than I did. These argu- 
ments were~"(6) ihe tiger was a man-eater that was better dead 
than alive, (bf therefore it made no difference whether he was 
awake or asleep when killed, and (of that had I walked away 
when I saw his belly heaving up and down I should have been 
morally responsible for the deaths of all the human beings he 
killed thereafter. All good and sound arguments, you will 
admit, for my having acted as I did; but the regret remains 
that through fear of the consequences to myself, or fear of 
losing the only chance I might ever get, or possibly a com- 
bination of the two, I did not awaken the sleeping animal and 
give him a sporting chance. 

The tiger was dead, and if my trophy was to be saved from 
falling into the valley below and rumeJrit was advisable to get 
him off the ledge with as little delay as possible. Leaning the 
rifle, for which I had no further use, against the fallen tree, 
I climbed up to the road and, once round the corner near the 
cultivated land, I cupped my hands and sent a cooee echoing 
over the hills and valleys. I had no occasion to repeat the call, 
for my men had heard my two shots when returning from 
attending to the first buffalo and had run back to the hut to 
collect as many villagers as were within calling distance. Now, 
on hearing my cooee, the whole crowd came helter-skelter down 
the road to meet me. 

When stout ropes and an axe had been procured I took the 
crowd back with me, and after I had secured the ropes round 
the tiger, willing hands half carried and half dragged him off 
the ledge and over the fallen tree, on to the plot of grass. Here 
I would have skinned him, but the villagers begged me not to 
do so, saying that the women and children of Kartkanoula and 
the adjoining villages would be very disappointed if they were 
not given an opportunity of seeing the tiger with their own 
eyes and satisfying themselves that the man-eater, in fear of 
whom they had lived for so many years, and who had 

138 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

established a reign of terror over the whole district, was really 
and truly dead. 

While a couple of saplings to assist in carrying the tiger back 
to the hut were being felled, I saw some of the men passing 
their hands over the tiger's limbs, and knew they were satisfying 
themselves that their assertion that the tiger had not been suffer- 
ing from any old, or crippling, wounds was correct. At the hut 
the tiger was placed in the shade of a wide-spreading tree and 
the villagers informed that it was at their disposal up to two 
o'clock longer I could not give them, for it was a very hot day 
and there was fear of the hair slipping, and the skin being 

I myself had not looked closely at the tiger, but at 2 p.m., 
when I laid him on his back to start the skinning, I noticed 
that most of the hair from the inner side of his left foreleg was 
missing, and that there were a number of small punctures in 
the skin, from which yellow fluid was exuding. I did not draw 
attention to these punctures, and left the skinning of the leg, 
which was considerably thinner than the right leg, to the last. 
When the skin had been removed from the rest of the animal, 
I made a long cut from the chest to the pad of the festering 
left leg, and as I removed the skin, drew out of the flesh, 
one after another, porcupine quills which the men standing 
round eagerly seized as souvenirs; the longest of these quills 
was about five inches, and their total number was between 
twenty-five and thirty. The flesh under the skin, from the 
tiger's chest -to the pad of his foot, was soapy, and of a dark 
yellow colour; cause enough to have made the poor beast moan 
when he walked, and quite sufficient reason for his having be- 
come and having remained a man-eater, for porcupine quills 
do not dissolve no matter how long they are embedded in 

I have extracted, possibly, a couple of hundred porcupine 
quills from the man-eating tigers I have shot. Many of these 

The Fish of My Dreams 139 

quills have been over nine inches in length and as thick as 
pencils. The majority were embedded in hard muscles, a few 
were wedged firmly between bones, and all were broken off 
short under the skin. 

Unquestionably the tigers acquired the quills when killing 
porcupines for food, but the question arises to which I regret 
I am unable to give any satisfactory answer why animals with 
the intelligence, and the agility, of tigers, should have been 
so careless as to drive quills deep into themselves, or be so slow 
in their movements as to permit porcupines whose only method 
of defending themselves is by walking backwards to do so; 
and further, why the quills should have been broken off short, 
for porcupine quills are not brittle. 

Leopards are just as partial to porcupines as our hill tigers 
are, but they do not get quills stuck in them, for they kill 
porcupines as I have seen by catching them by the head; 
and why tigers do not employ the same safe and obvious 
method of killing as leopards employ, and so avoid injury to 
themselves is a mystery to me. 

And now I have done telling you the story of the second of 
the three man-eating tigers mentioned at that District Confer- 
ence of long ago and, when opportunity offers, I will tell you 
how the third tiger, the Kanda man-eater, died. 


FISHING for mahseer in a well-stocked submontane river is, 
in my opinion, the most fascinating of all field sports. Our 
environments, even though we may not be continuously consci- 
ous of them, nevertheless play a very important part in the sum 
total of our enjoyment of any form of outdoor sport. I am 
convinced that the killing of the fish of one's dreams in un- 
congenial surroundings would afford an angler as little pleasure 

140 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

as the winning of the Davis Cup would to a tennis player if 
the contest were staged in the Sahara. 

The river I have recently been fishing in flows, for some forty 
miles of its length, through a beautifully wooded valley, well 
stocked with game and teeming with bird life. I had the curiosity 
to count the various kinds of animals and birds seen in one day, 
and by the evening of that day my count showed, among animals, 
sambur, chital, kakar, ghooral, pig, langur and red monkeys; 
and among birds seventy-five varieties including peafowl, red 
jungle fowl, kaleege pheasants, black partridge and bush quail. 

In addition to these I saw a school of five otter in the river, 
several small mugger and a python. The python was lying on 
the surface of a big still pool, with only the top of its flat head 
and eyes projecting above the gin-clear water. The subject was 
one I had long wished to photograph, and in order to do this 
it was necessary to cross the river above the pool and climb the 
opposite hillside; but unfortunately I had been seen by those 
projecting eyes, and as I cautiously stepped backwards, the 
reptile, which appeared to be about eighteen feet long, sub- 
merged, to retire to its subterranean home among the piled-up 
boulders at the head of the pool. 

In some places the valley through which the river flows is 
so narrow that a stone can be tossed with ease from one side 
to the other, and in other places it widens out to a mile or more. 
In these open spaces grow amaltas with their two-feet-long 
sprays of golden bloom, karaunda and box bushes with their 
white star-shaped flowers. The combined scent from these flow- 
ers fills the air, throbbing with the spring songs of a multitude of 
birds, with the most delicate and pleasing of perfumes. In these 
surroundings angling for mahseer might well be described as 
sport fit for kings. My object in visiting this sportsman's para- 
dise was not, however, to kill mahseer, but to try to secure a day- 
light picture of a tiger, and it was only when light conditions 
were unfavourable that I laid aside my movie camera for a rod. 

The Fish of My Dreams 141 

I had been out from dawn one day, trying, hour after hour, 
to get a picture of a tigress and her two cubs. The tigress was 
a young animal, nervous as all young mothers are, and as often 
as I stalked her she retired with the cubs into heavy cover. 
There is a limit to the disturbance a tigress, be she young or old, 
will suffer when accompanied by cubs, and when the limit on 
this occasion had been reached I altered my tactics and tried 
sitting up in trees over open glades, and lying in high grass near 
a stagnant pool in which she and her family were accustomed to 
drink, but with no better success. 

When the declining sun was beginning to cast shadows over 
the open places I was watching, I gave up the attempt, and 
added the day to the several hundred days I had already spent 
in trying to get a picture of a tiger in its natural surroundings. 
The two men I had brought from camp had passed the day in 
the shade of a tree on the far side of the river. I instructed 
them to return to camp by way of the forest track, and, 
exchanging my camera for a rod, set off along the river, intent 
on catching a fish for my dinner. 

The fashion in rods and tackle has altered, in recent years, 
as much as the fashion in ladies' dress. Gone, one often won- 
ders where, areTlhe i8-foot greenheart rods with their unbreak- 
able accompaniments, and gone the muscles to wield them, and 
their place has been taken by light one-handed fly rods. 

I was armed with an n-foot tournament trout rod, a reel 
containing 50 yards of casting line and 200 yards of fine silk 
backing, a medium gut cast, and a one-inch home-made brass 

When one has unlimited undisturbed water to fish one is 
apt to be over-critical. A pool is discarded because the 
approach to it is over rough ground, or a run is rejected because 
of a suspected snag. On this occasion, half a mile had been 
traversed before a final selection was made: a welter of white 
water cascading over rocks at the head of a deep oily run 

142 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

80 yards long, and at the end of the run a deep still pool 
200 yards long and 70 yards wide. Here was the place to 
catch the fish for my dinner. 

Standing just clear of the white water I flicked the spoon 
into the run, pulling a few yards of line off the reel as I did so, 
and as I raised the rod to allow the line to run through the rings 
the spoon was taken by a fish, near the bank, and close to where 
I was standing. By great good luck the remaining portion of the 
slack line tightened on the drum of the reel and did not foul the 
butt of the rod or handle of the reel, as so often happens. 

In a flash the fish was off downstream, the good well-oiled 
reel singing a paean of joy as the line was stripped off it. The 
50 yards of casting line followed by 100 yards of backing were 
gone, leaving in their passage burned furrows in the fingers of 
my left hand, when all at once the mad rush ceased as abruptly 
as it had begun, and the line went dead. 

The speculations one makes on these occasions chased each 
other through my mind, accompanied by a little strong language 
to ease my feelings. The hold had been good without question. 
The cast, made up a few days previously from short lengths of 
gut procured from the Pilot Gut Coy., had been carefully tied 
and tested. Suspicion centred on the split ring: possibly, crack- 
ed on a stone on some previous occasion, it had now given way. 

Sixty yards of the line are back on the reel, when the slack line 
is seen to curve to the left, and a moment later is cutting a strong 
furrow upstream the fish is still on, and is heading for the white 
water. Established here, pulling alternately from upstream, at 
right angles, and downstream fails to dislodge him. Time drags 
on, and the conviction grows that the fish has gone, leaving the 
line hung up on a snag. Once again and just as hope is being 
abandoned the line goes slack, and then tightens a moment 
later, as the fish for the second time goes madly downstream. 

And now he appears to have made up his mind to leave this 
reach of the river for the rapids below the pool. In one strong 

The Fish of My Dreams 143 

steady run he reaches the tail of the pool. Here, where the 
water fans out and shallows, he hesitates, and finally returns to 
the pool. A little later he shows on the surface for the first 
time, and but for the fact that the taut line runs direct from the 
point of the rod to the indistinctly seen object on the far side of 
the pool, it would be impossible to believe that the owner of 
that great triangular fin, projecting five inches out of the water, 
had taken a fly spoon a yard or two from my feet. 

Back in the depths of the pool, he was drawn inch by inch 
into slack water. To land a big fish single-handed on a trout 
rod is not an easy accomplishment. Four times he was stranded 
with a portion of his great shoulders out of water, and four 
times at my very cautious approach he lashed out, and, return- 
ing to the pool, had to be fought back inch by inch. At the fifth 
attempt, with the butt of the rod held at the crook of my 
thumb and reversed, rings upwards to avoid the handle of the 
reel coming into contact with him, he permits me to place one 
hand and then the other against his sides and very gently propel 
him through the shallow water up on to dry land* 

A fish I had set out to catch, and a fish I had caught, but 
he would take no part in my dinner that night, for between 
me and camp lay three and a half miles of rough ground, half 
of which would have to be covered in the dark. 

When sending away my n-lb. camera I had retained the 
cotton cord I use for drawing it up after me when I sit in trees. 
One end of this cord was passed through the gills of the fish 
and out at his mouth, and securely tied in a loop. The other 
end was made fast to the branch of a tree. When the cord was 
paid out the fish lay snugly against a great slab of rock, in 
comparatively still water. Otter were the only danger, and to 
scare them off I made a flag of my handkerchief, and fixed the 
end of the improvised flagstaff in the bed of the river a little 
below the fish. 
The sun was gilding the mountain tops next morning when 

144 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

I was back at the pool, and found the fish lying just where I 
had left it the previous evening. Having unfastened the cord 
from the branch, I wound it round my hand as I descended the 
slab of rock towards the fish. Alarmed at my approach, or feel- 
ing the vibration of the cord, the fish suddenly galvanized into 
life, and with a mighty splash dashed upstream. Caught at a 
disadvantage, I had no time to brace my feet on the sloping and 
slippery rock, but was jerked headlong into the pool. 

1 have a great distaste for going over my depth in these 
submontane rivers, for the thought of being encircled by a 
hungry python is very repugnant to me, and I am glad there 
were no witnesses to the manner in which I floundered out of 
that pool. I had just scrambled out on the far side, with the 
fish still attached to my right hand, when the men I had instruct- 
ed to follow me arrived. Handing the fish over to them to take 
down to our camp on the bank of the river, I went on ahead 
to change and get my camera ready. 

I had no means of weighing the fish and at a rough guess 
both the men and I put it at 50 Ib. 

The weight of the fish is immaterial, for weights are soon for- 
gotten. Not so forgotten are the surroundings in which the sport 
is indulged in. The steel blue of the fern-fringed pool where 
the water rests a little before cascading over rock and shingle to 
draw breath again in another pool more beautiful than the one 
just left the flash of the gaily-coloured kingfisher as he breaks 
the surface of the water, shedding a shower of diamonds from 
his wings as he rises with a chirp of delight, a silver minnow 
held firmly in his vermilion bill the belling of the sambur and 
the clear tuneful call of the chital apprising the jungle folk that 
the tiger, whose pug marks show wet on the sand where a 
few minutes before he crossed the river, is out in search of his 
dinner. These are things that will not be forgotten and will 
live in my memory, the lodestone to draw me back to that 
beautiful valley, as yet unspoiled by the hand of man. 


HOWEVER little faith we have in the superstitions we share 
with others thirteen at a table, the passing of wine at 
dinner, walking under a ladder, and so on our own private 
superstitions, though a source of amusement to our friends, are 
very real to us. 

I do not know if sportsmen are more superstitious than the 
rest of mankind, but I do know that they take their superstitions 
very seriously. One of my friends invariably takes five car- 
tridges, never more and never less, when he goes out after big 
game, and another as invariably takes seven cartridges. 
Another, who incidentally was the best-known big-game sports- 
man in Northern India, never started the winter shooting season 
without first killing a mahseer. My own private superstition 
concerns snakes. When after man-eaters I have a deep rooted 
conviction that, however much I may try, all my efforts will be 
unavailing until I have first killed a snake. 

During the hottest days of one May I had from dawn to 
dark climbed innumerable miles up and down incredibly steep 
hills, and through thick thorn bushes that had left my hands 
and knees a mass of ugly scratches, in search of a very wary 
man-eater. I returned on that fifteenth evening, dog-tired, to 
the two-roomed Forest Bungalow I was staying at to find a 
deputation of villagers waiting for me with the very welcome 
news that the man-eater, a tiger, had been seen that day on the 
outskirts of their village. It was too late to do anything that 
night, so the deputation were provided with lanterns and sent 
home with strict injunctions that no one was to leave the village 
the following day. 

The village was situated at the extreme end of the ridge on 
which the bungalow was, and because of its isolated position 
and the thick forest that surrounded it, had suffered more from 
the depredations of the tiger than any other village in the 

146 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

district. The most recent victims were two women and a man. 

I had made one complete circle of the village the following 
morning and had done the greater part of a second circle, a 
quarter of a mile below the first, when after negotiating a diffi- 
cult scree of shale I came on a little nullah made by the rush 
of rain-water down the steep hillside. A glance up and down 
the nullah satisfied me that the tiger was not in it, and then a 
movement just in front of me, and about twenty-five feet away, 
caught my eye. At this spot there was a small pool of water 
the size of a bath-tub, and on the far side of it was a snake that 
had evidently been drinking. The lifting of the snake's head 
had caught my eye and it was not until the head had been 
raised some two or three feet from the ground and the hood 
expanded that I realized it was a hamadryad. It was the most 
beautiful snake I had ever seen. The throat, as it faced me, 
was a deep orange red shading to golden yellow where the body 
met the ground. The back, olive green, was banded by ivory- 
coloured chevrons, and some four feet of its length from the tip 
of its tail upwards was shiny black, with white chevrons. In 
length the snake was between thirteen and fourteen feet. 

One hears many tales about hamadryads, their aggressiveness 
when disturbed, and the speed at which they can travel. If, 
as it seemed about to do, the snake attacked, up or down hill I 
should be at a disadvantage, but across the shale scree I felt that 
I could hold my own. A shot at the expanded hood, the size 
of a small plate, would have ended the tension, but the rifle in 
my hands was a heavy one and I had no intention of disturbing 
the tiger that had showed up after so many days of weary wait- 
ing and toil. After an interminably long minute, during which 
time the only movement was the flicking in and out of a long 
and quivering forked tongue, the snake closed his hood, lowered 
his head to the ground and, turning, made off up the opposite 
slope. Without taking my eyes off him I groped with my hand 
on the hillside and picked up a stone that filled my hand as 

The Kanda Man-eater 147 

comfortably as a cricket ball. The snake had just reached a 
sharp ridge of hard clay when the stone, launched with the 
utmost energy I was capable of, struck it on the back of the 
head. The blow would have killed any other snake outright 
but the only, and very alarming, effect it had on the hamadryad 
was to make it whip round and come straight towards me. A 
second and a larger stone fortunately caught it on the neck when 
it had covered half the distance between us, and after that the 
rest was easy. With a great feeling of satisfaction I completed 
the second circle round the village, and though it proved as 
fruitless as the first, I was elated at having killed the snake. 
Now, for the first time in many days, I had a feeling that my 
search for the man-eater would be successful. 

The following day I again searched the forest surrounding 
the village, and towards evening found the fresh pug marks 
of the tiger at the edge of a ploughed field overlooking the 
village. The occupants of the village, numbering about a 
hundred, were by now thoroughly alarmed, and leaving them 
with the assurance that I would return early next day I set out 
on my lonely four-mile walk back to the Forest Bungalow. 

To walk with safety through forests or along deserted roads 
in an area in which a man-eater is operating calls for the utmost 
caution and the strict observance of many rules. It is only 
when the hunter has repeatedly been the hunted that the senses 
can be attuned to the required pitch, and those rules be strictly 
adhered to, the breaking of which would provide the man-eater 
with an easy victim. 

The reader may ask, ' Why a lonely walk?', when I probably 
had men and to spare with me in camp. My answer to this 
very natural question would be: first, because one is apt to get 
careless and rely too much on one's companions, and second, 
because in a mix-up with a tiger one has a better chance when 
one is alone. 

The next morning, as I approached the village, I saw an 

148 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

eager throng of men waiting for me, and when within earshot 
I was greeted with the gratifying news that a buffalo had been 
killed during the night. The animal had been killed in the 
village, and after being dragged some distance along the ridge 
had been taken down into a narrow, deep, and very heavily 
wooded valley on the north face of the hill. 

A very careful reconnaissance from a projecting rock on the 
ridge satisfied me that an approach down the steep hill, along 
the line of the drag, would not be advisable, and that the only 
thing to do was to make a wide detour, enter the valley from 
the lower end and work up to the spot where I expected to find 
the kill. 

This manoeuvre was successfully accomplished, and by mid- 
day I had arrived at the spot marked from above where the 
valley flattened out for a hundred yards before going straight 
up three hundred yards to the ridge above. It was at the upper 
end of this flat bit of ground that I expected to find the kill, 
and with luck, the tiger. The long and difficult climb up the 
valley through dense thickets of thorn bush and stunted bamboo 
had brought out a bath of sweat, and as it was not advisable to 
take on a job where quick firing might be necessary with sweaty 
hands, I sat down for a much-needed rest and for a smoke. 

The ground in front of me was strewn with large smooth 
boulders among which a tiny stream meandered, forming wher- 
ever possible small crystal-clear pools. Shod with the thinnest 
of rubber-soled shoes, the going over these boulders was ideal 
for my purpose, and when I had cooled and dried I set off to 
stalk the kill in the hope of finding the tiger lying asleep near 
it. When three-quarters of the ground had been covered I 
caught sight of the kill tucked away under a bank of ferns, and 
about twenty-five yards away from where the hill went steeply 
tip to the ridge. The tiger was not in sight, and, very cautious- 
ly drawing level with the kill I took up my position oil a flat 
boulder to scan every inch of ground visible. 

The Kanda Man-eater 149 

The premonition of impending danger is too well known and 
established a fact to need any comment. For three or four 
minutes I had stood perfectly still with no thought of danger 
and then all at once I became aware that the tiger was looking 
at me at a very short range. The same sense that had conveyed 
the feeling of impending danger to me had evidently operated 
in the same way on the tiger and awakened him from his sleep. 
To my left front were some dense bushes, growing on a bit 
of flat ground. On these bushes, distant fifteen to twenty feet 
from me, and about the same distance from the kill, my interest 
centred. Presently the bushes were gently stirred and the next 
second I caught sight of the tiger going at full speed up the 
steep hillside. Before I could get the rifle to bear on him he 
disappeared behind a creeper-covered tree, and it was not until 
he had covered about sixty yards that I again saw him, as he 
was springing up the face of a rock. At my shot he fell back- 
wards and came roaring down the hill, bringing an avalanche of 
stones with him. A broken back, I concluded; and just as I 
was wondering how best to deal with him when he should arrive 
all-of-a-heap at my feet, the roaring ceased, and the next 
minute, as much to my relief as to my disappointment, I saw 
him going fullout, and apparently unwounded, across the side 
of the hill. The momentary glimpses I caught of him offered 
no shot worth taking, and with a crash through some dry bam- 
boos he disappeared round the shoulder of the hill into the next 

I subsequently found that my bullet, fired at an angle of 
seventy-five degrees, had hit the tiger on the left elbow and 
chipped out a section from that bone which some cynical humo- 
rist has named the ' funny bone '. Carrying on, the bullet had 
struck the rock and, splashing back, had delivered a smashing 
blow on the point of the jaw. Neither wound, however painful 
it may have been, was fatal, and the only result of my follow- 
ing up the very light blood trail into the next valley was to be 

150 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

growled at from a dense thorn thicket, to enter which would 
have been suicidal. 

My shot had been heard in the village and an expectant 
crowd were waiting for me on the ridge. They were even more 
disappointed, if that were possible, than I was at the failure of 
my carefully planned and as carefully executed stalk. 

On visiting the kill the following morning I was very pleased 
and not a little surprised to find that the tiger had returned to 
it during the night and taken a light meal. The only way now 
of getting a second shot was to sit up over the kill; and here a 
difficulty presented itself. There were no suitable trees within 
convenient distance of the kill, and the very unpleasant experi- 
ence I had had on a former occasion had effectively cured me 
of sitting at night on the ground for a man-eater. While still 
undecided where to sit I heard the tiger call, some distance down 
the valley up which I had climbed the previous day. The call- 
ing of the tiger offered me a very welcome chance of shooting 
it in the most pleasant way it is possible of bringing one of these 
animals to bag. .The conditions under which a tiger can be 
called up are (tfj when rampaging through the forest in search 
of a mate, and (#j when lightly wounded. It goes without 
saying that the sportsman must be able to call sufficiently well to 
deceive the tiger, and that the call must come from a spot to 
which the tiger will quite naturally come a dense thicket, or a 
patch of heavy grass and that the sportsman must be prepared 
to take his shot at a very close range. I am quite certain that 
many sportsmen will be sceptical of the statement I have made 
that a lightly wounded tiger will come to a call. I would ask all 
such to reserve their judgement until they have tried to experi- 
ment for themselves. On the present occasion, however, though 
the tiger answered me, call for call, for upwards of an hour, he 
refused to come any nearer, and I attributed my failure to the 
fact that I was calling from the spot where the previous day the 
tiger had met with an unfortunate experience. 

The Kanda Man-eater 151 

The tree I finally selected was growing on the very edge of 
a perpendicular bank and had a convenient branch about eight 
feet from the ground. When sitting on this branch I should be 
thirty feet from, and directly above, the boulder-strewn ravine 
up which I expected the tiger to come. The question of the 
tree settled, I returned to the ridge where I had instructed my 
men to meet me with breakfast. 

By four o'clock in the evening I was comfortably seated on 
the branch and prepared for a long and a hard sit-up. Before 
leaving my men I had instructed them to cooee to me from 
the ridge at sunrise next morning. If I answered with the call 
of a leopard they were to sit tight, but if they received no 
answer, they were to form two parties with as many villagers as 
they could collect and come down on either side of the valley, 
shouting and throwing stones. 

I have acquired the habit of sleeping in any position on a 
tree, and as I was tired the evening did not pass unpleasantly. 
As the setting sun was gilding the hilltops above me I was 
roused to full consciousness by the alarm-call of a langur. I 
soon located the monkey, sitting in a tree-top on the far side of 
the valley, and as it was looking in my direction I concluded 
it had mistaken me for a leopard. The alarm-call was repeated 
at short intervals, and finally ceased as darkness came OR. 

Hour after hour I strained my eyes and ears, and was suddenly 
startled by a stone rolling down the hillside and striking my tree. 
The stone was followed by the stealthy padding of a heavy, 
soft-footed animal, unmistakably the tiger. At first I comforted 
myself with the thought that his coming in this direction, instead 
of up the valley, was accidental, but this thought was soon dis- 
pelled when he started to emit low deep growls from imme- 
diately behind me. Quite evidently he had come into the valley 
while I was having breakfast, and, taking up a position on the 
hill, where the monkey had later seen him, had watched me 
climbing into the tree. Here was a situation I had not counted 

152 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

on and one that needed careful handling. The branch that had 
provided a comfortable seat while daylight lasted, admitted of 
little change of position in the dark. I could, of course, have 
fired off my rifle into the air, but the terrible results I have seen 
following an attempt to drive away a tiger at very close quarters 
by discharging a gun dissuaded me from taking this action. 
Further, even if the tiger had not attacked, the discharge of the 
rifle (a 450/400) so near him would probably have made him 
leave the locality and all my toil would have gone for nothing. 

I knew the tiger would not spring for that would have carried 
him straight down a drop of thirty feet on to the rocks below. 
But there was no need for him to spring, for by standing on 
his hind legs he could easily reach me. Lifting the rifle off my 
lap and reversing it, I pushed the barrel between my left ami 
and side, depressing the muzzle and slipping up the safety-catch 
as I did so. This movement was greeted by a deeper growl than 
any that had preceded it. If the tiger now reached up for me 
he would in all probability come in contact with the rifle, round 
the triggers, of which my fingers were crooked, and even if I 
failed to kill him the confusion following on my shot would give 
me a sporting chance of climbing higher into the tree. Time 
dragged by on leaden feet, and, eventually, tiring of prowling 
about the hillside and growling, the tiger sprang across a little 
ravine on my left and a few minutes later I heard the welcome 
sound of a bone being cracked at the kill. At last I was able to 
relax in my uncomfortable position and the only sounds I heard 
for the rest of the night came from the direction of the kill. 

The sun had been up but a few minutes and the valley was 
still in deep shadow when my men cooeed from the ridge, and 
almost immediately afterwards I caught sight of the tiger mak- 
ing off at a fast canter up, and across, the hill on my left. In 
the uncertain light and with my nightlong-strained eyes the shot 
was a very difficult one, but I took it, and had the satisfaction 
of seeing the bullet going home. Turning with a great roar, he 

The Kanda Man-eater 153 

came straight for my tree, and as he was in the act of springing 
the second bullet, with great good fortune, crashed into his 
chest. Diverted in his spring by the impact of the heavy bullet, 
the tiger struck the tree just short of me, and ricochetting off it 
went headlong into the valley below, where his fall was broken 
by one of the small pools already alluded to. He floundered 
out of the water, leaving it dyed red with his blood, and went 
lumbering down the valley and out of sight. 

Fifteen hours on the hard branch had cramped every muscle 
in my body, and it was not until I had swarmed down the tree, 
staining my clothes in the great gouts of blood the tiger had 
left on it, and had massaged my stiff limbs, that I was able to 
follow him. He had gone but a short distance, and I found him 
lying dead at the foot of a rock in another pool of water. 

Contrary to my orders the men, collected on the ridge, hear- 
ing my shot and the tiger's roar followed by a second shot, 
came in a body down the hill. Arrived at the bloodstained tree, 
at the foot of which my soft hat was lying, they not unnaturally 
concluded I had been carried off by the tiger. Hearing their 
shouts of alarm I called out to them, and again they came run- 
ning down the valley, only to be brought up with a gasp of 
dismay when they saw my blood-stained clothes. Reassured 
that I was not injured and that the blood on my clothes was 
not mine, a moment later they were crowding round the tiger. 
A stout sapling was soon cut and lashed to him with creepers, 
and the tiger, with -no little difficulty and a great deal of shout- 
ing, was carried up the steep hill to the village. 

In remote areas in which long-established man-eaters are 
operating, many gallant acts of heroism are performed, which 
the local inhabitants accept as everyday occurrences and the 
outside world have no means of hearing about. I should like 
to put on record one such act concerning the Kanda man-eater's 
last human victim. I arrived on the scene shortly after the 
occurrence, and from details supplied by the villagers and from 


The promise mentioned on page 112, was made after receiving 

this petition 

From The Public of patty Painaun, Bungi and Bickla Badalpur 

District Garhwal 
To Captain J. E. Carbitt, Esq., I.A.R.O., Kaladhungi 

Distt. Naini Tal 

Respected Sir 

We all the public (of the above 3 Patties) most humbly and respectfully 
beg to lay the following lew lines lor your kind consideration and doing 

That in this vicinity a tiger has turned out man-eater since December 
last. Up to this date he has killed 5 men and wounded 2. So we the 
public are in a great distress. By the fear of this tiger we cannot watch 
our wheat crop at night so the cleers have ncaily ruined it. We cannot 
go in the forest for fodder grass nor we can enter our catties in the forest 
to graze so many of our cattle are to die. Under the ciicumstances we 
are nearly to be ruined. The Forest Ollicials are doing every possible 
arrangement to kill this tiger but there is no hope of any success. 
2 shikari gentlemen also tried to shoot it but unfoitunatcly they could not 
get it. Our kind District Magistrate has notified Rs. 150 reward for 
killing this tiger, so every one is trying to kill it but no success. We 
have heard that your kind self have killed many man-eater tigers and 
leopards. For this you have earned a good name specially in Kumaon 
revenue Division. The famous mari-catcr leonaid of Nagpur has been 
shoot by you. This is the voice of all the public here that this tiger also 
will be killed only by you. So we the public venture to request that you 
very kindly take trouble to come to this place and shoot this tiger (our 
enemy) and save the public from this calamity. For this act of kindness 
we the public will be highly obliged and will pray for your long life 
and prosperity. Hope you will surely consider on our condition and 
take trouble to come here for saving us from this calamity. The route 
to this place is as follows Ramnagar to Sultan, Sultan to Lahachaur, 
Lahachaur to Kanda. If your honour kindly inform us the date of your 
arrival at Ramnagar we will send our men and cart to Ramnagar to 
meet you and accompany you. 

We beg to remain 


Your most sincerely 

Dated Jharat Signed Govind Singh Ncgi 

The i8th February 1933 Headman Village Jharat 

followed by 40 signatures and 4 thumb impressions of 
inhabitants of Painaun f Bungi and Bickla Badalpur Patties. 

The Govind Singh Negi 
Village Jharat Patty 
Painaun, P.O. 
Badialgaon Dist., Garhwal, U.P. 

The Kanda Man-eater 155 

a careful examination of the ground, which had not been dis- 
turbed in the interval, I am able to present you with a story 
which I believe to be correct in every detail. 

In the village near which I shot the Kanda man-eater lived 
an elderly man and his only son. The father had served in 
the army during the 1914-18 war and it was his ambition to 
get his son enlisted in the Royal Garhwal Rifles not as simple 
a job in the 'piping days of peace ', when vacancies were few 
and applicants many, as it is today. Shortly after the lad's 
eighteenth birthday a party of men passed through the village on 
their way to the bazaar at Lansdowne. The lad joined this party 
and immediately on arrival at Lansdowne presented himself at 
the Recruiting Office. As his father had taught him to salute 
with military precision and how to conduct himself in the pres- 
ence of a Recruiting Officer, he was accepted without any hesi- 
tation, and, after enrolment, was given leave to deposit his few 
personal possessions at home before starting his army training. 

He arrived back home at about midday, after an absence of 
five days, and was told by the friends who thronged round him 
to hear his news that his father was away ploughing their small 
holding at the extreme end of the village and would not return 
before nightfall. (The field that was being ploughed was the 
same one on which I had seen the pug marks of the man-eater 
the day I killed the hamadryad.) 

One of the lad's jobs had been to provide fodder for their 
cattle, and after he had partaken of the midday meal in a 
neighbour's house he set out with a party of twenty men to 
collect leaves. 

The village, as I have told you, is situated on a ridge, and is 
surrounded by forests. Two women had already been killed by 
the man-eater while cutting grass in these forests, and for several 
months the cattle had been kept alive on leaves cut from the 
trees surrounding the village. Each day the men had to go 
further afield to get their requirements, and on this particular 

156 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

day the party of twenty-one, after crossing the cultivated land, v 
went for a quarter of a mile down a very steep rocky hill to 
the head of the valley which runs east for eight miles, through 
dense forest, to where it meets the Ramganga river opposite the 
Dhikala Forest Bungalow. 

At the head of the valley the ground is more or less flat and 
overgrown with big trees. Here the men separated, each climb- 
ing into a tree of his choice, and after cutting the quantity of 
leaves required they tied them into bundles with rope brought 
for the purpose, and returned to the village in twos and threes. 

Either when the party of men were coming down the hill, 
talking at the tops of their voices to keep up their courage and 
scare away the man-eater, or when they were on the trees shout- 
ing to each other, the tiger, who was lying up in a dense patch 
of cover half a mile down the valley, heard them. Leaving the 
cover, in which it had four days previously killed and eaten a 
sambur hind, the tiger crossed a stream and by way of a cattle 
track that runs the entire length of the valley hurried up in the 
direction of the men. (The speed at which a tiger has travelled 
over any ground on which he has left signs of his passage can 
be easily determined from the relative position of his fore and 
hind pug marks.) 

The lad of my story had selected a Bauhinea tree from which 
to cut leaves for his cattle. This tree was about twenty yards 
above the cattle track, and the upper branches were leaning out 
over a small ravine in which there were two rocks. From a 
bend in the cattle track the tiger saw the lad on the tree, and 
after lying down and watching him for some time it left the 
track and concealed itself behind a fallen silk cotton tree some 
thirty yards from the ravine. When the lad had cut all the 
leaves he needed he descended from the tree and collected them 
in a heap, preparatory to tying them into a bundle. While doing 
this on the open flat ground he was comparatively safe, but un- 
fortunately he had noticed that two of the branches he had cut 

The Kanda Man-eater 157 

had fallen into the ravine between the two big rocks, and he 
sealed his fate by stepping down into the ravine to recover them. 
As soon as he was out of sight the tiger left the shelter of the 
fallen tree and crept forward to the edge of the ravine, and as 
the lad was stooping down to pick up the branches, it sprang 
on him and killed him. Whether the killing took place while 
the other men were still on the trees, or after they had left, it 
was not possible for me to determine. 

The father of the lad returned to the village at sunset and 
was greeted with the very gratifying news that his son had been 
accepted for the army, and that he had returned from Lans- 
downe on short leave. Asking where the lad was, he was told 
that he had gone out earlier in the day to get fodder, and sur- 
prise was expressed that the father had not found him at home. 
After bedding down the bullocks the father went from house to 
house to find his son. All the men who had been out that day 
were questioned in turn, and all had the same tale to tell that 
they had separated at the head of the valley, and no one could 
remember having seen the lad after that. 

Crossing the terraced cultivated land the father went to the 
edge of the steep hill, and called, and called again, to his son, 
but received no answer. 

Night was by now setting in. The man returned to his home 
and lit a small smoke-dimmed lantern, and as he passed through 
the village he horrified his neighbours by telling them, in reply 
to their questions, that he was going to look for his son. He 
was asked if he had forgotten the man-eater and answered that 
it was because of the man-eater that he was so anxious to find 
his son, for it was possible he had fallen off a tree and injured 
himself and, for fear of attracting the man-eater, had not 
answered to his call. 

He did not ask anyone to accompany him, and no one 
offered to do so, and for the whole of that night he searched 
up and down that valley in which no one had dared to set foot 

158 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

since the advent of the man-eater. Four times during the night 
as I saw from his foot-prints when going along the cattle 
track he had passed within ten feet of where the tiger was lying 
eating his son. 

Weary and heartsick he climbed a little way up the rocky 
hill as light was coming, and sat down for a rest. From this 
raised position he could see into the ravine. At sunrise he saw a 
glint of blood on the two big rocks, and hurrying down to the 
spot he found all that the tiger had left of his son. These remains 
he collected and took back to his home, and when a suitable 
shroud had been procured, his friends helped him to carry the 
remains to the burning ghat on the banks of the Mandal river. 

I do not think it would be correct to assume that acts such 
as these are performed by individuals who lack imagination and 
who therefore do not realize the grave risks they run. The 
people of our hills, in addition to being very sensitive to their 
environments, are very superstitious, and every hill-top, valley, 
and gorge is credited with possessing a spirit in one form or 
another, all of the evil and malignant kind most to be feared 
during the hours of darkness. A man brought up in these sur- 
roundings, and menaced for over a year by a man-eater, who, 
unarmed and alone, from sunset to sunrise, could walk through 
dense forests which his imagination peopled with evil spirits, and 
in which he had every reason to believe a man-eater was lurk- 
ing, was in my opinion possessed of a quality and a degree of 
courage that is given to few. All the more do I give him credit 
for his act of heroism for not being conscious that he had done 
anything unusual, or worthy of notice. When at my request he 
sat down near the man-eater to enable me to take a photograph, 
he looked up at me and said, in a quiet and collected voice, ' I 
am content now, sahib, for you have avenged my son.' 

This was the last of the three man-eaters that I had promised 
the District Officials of Kumaon, and later the people of Garh- 
wal, that I would do my best to rid them of. 


"QEYOND the fact that he was born in a ravine running deep 
JDinto the foot-hills and was one of a family of three, I know 
nothing of his early history. 

He was about a year old when, attracted by the calling of a 
chital hind early one November morning, I found his pug marks 
in the sandy bed of a little stream known locally as Pipal Pani. 
I thought at first that he had strayed from his mother's care, 
but, as week succeeded week and his single tracks showed on 
the game paths of the forest, I came to the conclusion that the 
near approach of the breeding season was an all-sufficient reason 
for his being alone. Jealously guarded one day, protected at 
the cost of the parent life if necessary, and set adrift the next, 
is the lot of all jungle folk; nature's method of preventing 

That winter he lived on peafowl, kakar, small pig and an 
occasional chital hind, making his home in a prostrate giant of 
the forest felled for no apparent reason, and hollowed out by 
time and porcupines. Here he brought most of his kills, bask- 
ing, when the days were cold, on the smooth bole of the tree, 
where many a leopard had basked before him. 

It was not until January was well advanced that I saw the 
cub at close quarters. I was out one evening without any defi- 
nite object in view, when I saw a cfow rise from the ground and 
wipe its beak as it lit on the branch of a tree. Crows, vultures 
and magpies always interest me in the jungle, and many are the 
kills I have found both in India and in Africa with the help of 
these birds. On the present occasion the crow led me to the 
scene of an overnight tragedy. A chital had been killed and 
partly eaten and, attracted to the spot probably as I had been, 
a party of men passing along the road, distant some fifty yards, 
had cut up and removed the remains. All that was left of the 
chital were a few splinters of bone and a little congealed blood 

160 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

off which the crow had lately made his meal. The absence of 
thick cover and the proximity of the. road convinced me that 
the animal responsible for the kill had not witnessed the removal 
and that it would return in due course; so I decided to sit up, 
and made myself as comfortable in a plum tree as the thorns 

I make no apology to you, my reader, if you differ with me 
on the ethics of the much-debated subject of sitting up over kills. 
Some of my most pleasant shikar memories centre round the 
hour or two before sunset that I have spent in a tree over a 
natural kill, ranging from the time when, armed with a muzzle- 
loader whipped round with brass wire to prevent the cracked 
barrel from bursting, I sat over a langur killed by a leopard, 
to a few days ago, when with the most modern rifle across my 
knees, I watched a tigress and her two full-grown cubs eat up 
the sambur stag they had killed, and counted myself no poorer 
for not having secured a trophy. 

True, on the present occasion there is no kill below me, but, 
for the reasons given, that will not affect any chance of a shot; 
scent to interest the jungle folk there is in plenty in the blood- 
soaked ground, as witness the old grey-whiskered boar who 
has been quietly rooting along for the past ten minutes, and who 
suddenly stiffens to attention as he comes into the line of the 
blood-tainted wind. His snout held high, and worked as only 
a pig can work that member, tells him more than I was able to 
glean from the ground which showed no tracks; his method of 
approach, a short excursion to the right and back into the wind, 
and then a short excursion to the left and again back into the 
wind, each manoeuvre bringing him a few yards nearer, indicates 
the chital was killed by a tiger. Making sure once and again 
that nothing worth eating has been left, he finally trots off and 
disappears from view. 

Two chital, both with horns in velvet, now appear and from 
the fact that they are coming down-wind, and making straight 


Jit' r /to 





The Pipat Pani Tiger 161 

for the blood-soaked spot, it is evident they wer witnesses to 
the overnight tragedy. Alternately snuffing the ground, or 
standing rigid with every muscle tensed for instant flight, they 
satisfy their curiosity and return the way they came. 

uriosity |[t is not a humanmonopolyi many an animal's life 
is cut short by indulging in it. A dog leaves th.e verandah, to 
bark at a shadow, a deer leaves the herd to investigate a .tuft 
of grass that no wind agitated, and the waiting leopard is pro- 
vided with a meal. 

The sun is nearing the winter line when a movement to the 
right front attracts attention. An animal has crossed an open- 
ing between two bushes at the far end of a wedge of scrub that 
terminates thirty yards from my tree. Presently the bushes at 
my end part, and out into the open, with never a look to right 
or left, steps the cub. Straight up to the spot where his kill 
had been he goes, his look of expectancy giving place to one 
of disappointment as he realizes that his chital, killed, possibly, 
after hours of patient stalking, is gone. The splinters of bone 
and congealed blood are rejected, and his interest centres on a 
tree stump lately used as a butcher's block, to Which some 
shreds of flesh are adhering. I was not the only one who car- 
ried fire-arms in these jungles and, if the cub was to grow into 
a tiger, it was necessary he should be taught the danger of care- 
lessly approaching kills in daylight. A scatter-gun and dust-shot 
would have served my purpose better, but the rifle will have to 
do this time; and, as he raises his head to smell the stump, my 
bullet crashes into the hard wood an inch from his- nose. Only 
once in the years that followed did the cub forget that lesson. 

The following winter I saw him several times. His ears 
did not look so big now and he had changed his baby hair for 
a coat of rich tawny red with well-defined stripes. The hollow 
tree had been given up to its rightful owners a pair of leopards, 
new quarters found in a thick belt of scrub skirting the foot- 
hills, and young sambur added to his menu. 

162 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

On my annual descent from the hills next winter, the familiar 
pug marks no longer showed on the game paths and at the 
drinking places, and for several weeks I thought the cub had 
abandoned his old haunts and gone further afield. Then one 
morning his absence was explained for, side by side with his 
tracks, were the smaller and more elongated tracks of the mate 
he had gone to find. I only once saw the tigers, for the cub was 
a tiger now, together. I had been out before dawn to try to 
bag a serow that lived on the foot-hills, and returning along a 
fire track my attention was arrested by a vulture, perched on 
the dead limb of a sal tree. 

The bird had his back towards me and was facing a short 
stretch of scrub with dense jungle beyond. Dew was still heavy 
on the ground, and without a sound I reached the tree and peer- 
ed round. One antler of a dead sambur, for no living deer would 
lie in that position, projected above the low bushes. A convenient 
moss-covered rock afforded my rubbershod feet silent and safe 
hold, and as I drew myself erect, the sambur came into full 
view. The hind quarters had been eaten away and, lying on 
either side 6f the kill, were the pair, the tiger being on the far 
side with only his hind legs showing. Both tigers were asleep. 
Ten feet straight in front, to avoid a dead branch, and thirty 
feet to the left would give me a shot at the tiger's neck, but in 
planning the stalk I had forgotten the silent spectator. Where 
I stood I was invisible to him, but before the ten feet had been 
covered I came into view and, alarmed at my near proximity, 
he flapped of his perch, omitting as he did so to notice a thin 
creeper dependent from a branch above him against which he 
collided, and came ignominiously to ground. The tigress was 
up and away in an instant, clearing at a bound the kill and her 
mate, the tiger not being slow to follow; a possible shot, but too 
risky with thick jungle ahead where a wounded animal would 
have all the advantages. To those who have never tried it, I 
can recommend the stalking of leopards and tigers on their 

The Pipal Pant Tiger 163 

kills as a most pleasant form of sport. Great care should how- 
ever be taken over the shot, for if the animal is not killed out- 
right, or anchored, trouble is bound to follow. 

A week later the tiger resumed his bachelor existence. A 
change had now come over his nature. Hitherto he had not 
objected to my visiting his kills but, after his mate left, at the 
first drag I followed up I was given very clearly to understand 
that no liberties would in future be permitted. The angry growl 
of a tiger at close quarters, than which there is no more terrify- 
ing sound in the jungles, has to be heard to be appreciated. 

Early in March the tiger killed his first full-grown buffalo. 
I was near the foot-hills one evening when the agonized bellow- 
ing of a buffalo, mingled with the angry roar of a tiger, rang 
through the forest. I located the sound as coming from a 
ravine about six hundred yards away. The going was bad, 
mostly over loose rocks and through thorn bushes, and when 
I crawled up a steep bluff commanding a view of the ravine the 
buffalo's struggles were over, and the tiger nowhere to be seen. 
For an hour I lay with finger on trigger without seeing any- 
thing of the tiger. At dawn next morning I again crawled up 
the bluff, to find the buffalo lying just as I had left her. The 
soft ground, torn up by hoof and claw, testified to the desperate 
nature of the struggle and it was not until the buffalo had been 
hamstrung that the tiger had finally succeeded in pulling her 
down, in a fight which had lasted from ten to fifteen minutes. 
The tiger's tracks led across the ravine and, on following them 
up, I found a long smear of blood on a rock, and, a hundred 
yards further on, another smear on a fallen tree. The wound 
inflicted by the buffalo's horns was in the tiger's head and 
sufficiently severe to make the tiger lose all interest in the kill, 
for he never returned to it. 

Three years later the tiger, disregarding the lesson received 
when a cub (his excuse may have been that it was the close 
season for tigers), incautiously returned to a kill, over which a 

164 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

zatnindar and some of his tenants were sitting at night, and 
received a bullet in the shoulder which fractured the bone. No 
attempt was made to follow him up, and thirty-six hours later, 
his. shoulder covered with a swarm of flies, he limped through 
the compound of the Inspection Bungalow, crossed a bridge 
flanked on the far side by a double row of tenanted houses, the 
occupants of which stood at their doors to watch him pass, 
entered the gate of a walled-in compound and took possession of 
a vacant godown. Twenty-four hours later, possibly alarmed 
by the number of people who had collected from neighbouring 
villages to see him, he left the compound the way he had entered 
it, passed our gate, and made his way to the lower end of our 
village. A bullock belonging to one of our tenants had died the 
previous night and had been dragged into some bushes at the 
edge of the village; this the tiger found, and here he remained 
a few days, quenching his thirst at an irrigation furrow. 

When we came down from the hills two months later the 
tiger was living on small animals (calves, sheep, goats, etc.) 
that he was able to catch on the outskirts of the village. By 
March his wound had healed, leaving his right foot turned 
inwards. Returning to the forest where he had been wounded, 
he levied heavy toll on the village cattle, taking, for safety's 
sake, but one meal off each and in this way killing five times as 
many as he would ordinarily have done. The zamindar who 
had wounded him and who had a herd of some four hundred 
head of cows and buffaloes was the chief sufferer. 

In the succeeding years he gained as much in size as in 
reputation, and many were the attempts made by sportsmen, 
and others, to bag him. 

One November evening, a villager, armed with a single-barrel 
muzzle-loading gun, set out to try to bag a pig, selecting for his 
ground machan an isolated bush growing in a twenty-yard-wide 
rowkah (dry watercourse) running down the centre of some 
broken ground, This ground was rectangular, flanked on the 

The Pipal Pani Tiger 165 

long sides by cultivated land and on the short sides by a road, 
and by a ten-foot canal that formed the boundary between our 
cultivation and the forest. In front of the man was a four-foot- 
high bank with a cattle track running along the upper edge; 
behind him a patch of dense scrub. At 8 p.m. an animal appear- 
ed on the track and, taking what aim he could, he fired. On 
receiving the shot the animal fell off the bank, and passed with- 
in a few feet of the man, grunting as it entered the scrub behind. 
Casting aside his blanket, the man ran to his hut two hundred 
yards away. Neighbours soon collected and, on hearing the 
man's account, came to the conclusion that a pig had been hard 
hit. It would be a pity, they said, to leave the pig for hyenas 
and jackals to eat, so a lantern was lit and as a party of six bold 
spirits set out to retrieve the bag, one of my tenants (who declin- 
ed to join the expedition, and who confessed to me later that he 
had no stomach for looking for wounded pig in dense scrub in 
the dark) suggested that the gun should be loaded and taken. 

His suggestion was accepted and, as a liberal charge of powder 
was being rammed home, the wooden ramrod jammed and broke 
inside the barrel. A trivial accident which undoubtedly saved 
the lives of six men. The broken rod was eventually and after 
great trouble extracted, the gun loaded, and the party set off. 

Arrived at the spot where the animal had entered the bushes, 
a careful search was made and, on blood being found, every 
effort to find the ' pig ' was made; it was not until the whole area 
had been combed out that the quest for that night was finally 
abandoned. Early next morning the search was resumed, with 
the addition of my informant of weak stomach, who was a bet- 
ter woodsman than his companions and who, examining the 
ground under a bush where there was a lot of blood, collected 
and brought some blood-stained hairs to me which I recognized 
as tiger's hairs, A brother sportsman was with me for the day 
and together we went to have a look at the ground. 

The reconstruction of jungle events from signs on the ground 

166 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

has always held great interest for me. True, one's deductions 
are sometimes wrong, but they are also sometimes right. In the 
present instance I was right in placing the wound in the inner 
forearm of the right foreleg, but was wrong in assuming the 
leg had been broken and that the tiger was a young animal and 
a stranger to the locality. 

There was no blood beyond the point where the hairs had 
been found and, as tracking on the hard ground was impossible, 
I crossed the canal to where the cattle track ran through a bed 
of sand. Here from the pug marks I found that the wounded 
animal was not a young tiger as I had assumed, but my old 
friend the Pipal Pani tiger who, when taking a short cut through 
the village, had in the dark been mistaken for a pig. 

Once before when badly wounded he had passed through the 
settlement without harming man or beast, but he was older 
now, and if driven by pain and hunger might do considerable 
damage. A disconcerting prospect, for the locality was thickly 
populated, and I was due to leave within the week, to keep an 
engagement that could not be put off. 

For three days I searched every bit of the jungle between 
the canal and the foot-hills, an area of about four square miles, 
without finding any trace of the tiger. On the fourth afternoon, 
as I was setting out to continue the search, I met an old woman 
and her son hurriedly leaving the jungle. From them I learnt 
that the tiger was calling near the foot-hills and that all the 
cattle in the jungle had stampeded. When out with a rifle I 
invariably go alone; it is safer in a mix-up, and one can get 
through the jungle more silently. However, I stretched a point 
on this occasion, and let the boy accompany me since he was 
very keen on showing me where he had heard the tiger. 

Arrived at the foot-hills, the boy pointed to a dense bit of 
cover, bounded on the far side by the fire-track to which I have 
already referred, and on the near side by the Pipal Pani stream. 
Running parallel to and about a hundred yards from the stream 

The Pipal Pani Tiger 167 

was a shallow depression some twenty feet wide, more or less 
open on my side and fringed with bushes on the side nearer the 
stream. A well-used path crossed the depression at right angles. 
Twenty yards from the path, and on the open side of the depres- 
sion, was a small tree. If the tiger came down the path he 
would in all likelihood stand for a shot on clearing the bushes. 
Here I decided to take my stand and, putting the boy into the 
tree with his feet on a level with my head and instructing him to 
signal with his toes if from his raised position he saw the tiger 
before I did, I put my back to the tree and called. 

You, who have spent as many years in the jungle as I have, 
need no description of the call of a tigress in search of a mate, 
and to you less fortunate ones I can only say that the call, to 
acquire which necessitates close observation and the liberal use 
of throat salve, cannot be described in words. 

To my great relief, for I had crawled through the jungle for 
three days with finger on trigger, I was immediately answered 
from a distance of about five hundred yards, and for half an hour 
thereafter it may have been less and certainly appeared more 
the call was tossed back and forth. On the one side the urgent 
summons of the king, and on the other, the subdued and coaxing 
answer of his handmaiden. Twice the boy signalled, but I had 
as yet seen nothing of the tiger, and it was not until the setting 
sun was flooding the forest with golden light that he suddenly 
appeared, coming down the path at a fast walk with never a 
pause as he cleared the bushes. When half-way across the 
depression, and just as I was raising the rifle, he turned to the 
right and came straight towards me. 

This manoeuvre, unforeseen when selecting my stand, brought 
him nearer than I had intended he should come and, moreover, 
presented me with a head shot which at that short range I was 
not prepared to take. Resorting to an old device, learned long 
years ago and successfully used on similar occasions, the tiger 
was brought to a stand without being alarmed. With one paw 

168 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

poised, he slowly raised his head, exposing as he did so his 
chest and throat. After the impact of the heavy bullet, he 
struggled to his feet and tore blindly through the forest, coming 
down with a crash within a few yards of where, attracted by 
the calling of a chital hind one November morning, I had first 
seen his pug marks. 

It was only then that I found he had been shot under a 
misapprehension, for the wound which I feared might make him 
dangerous proved on examination to be almost healed and 
caused by a pellet of lead having severed a small vein in his 
right forearm. 

Pleasure at having secured a magnificent trophy he measured 
10' 3" over curves and his winter coat was in perfect condition 
was not unmixed with regret, for never again would the jungle 
folk and I listen with held breath to his deep-throated call 
resounding through the foot-hills, and never again would his 
familiar pug marks show on the game paths that he and I had 
trodden for fifteen years. 


PEACE had reigned in the Ladhya valley for many months 
when in September '38 a report was received in Naini Tal 
that a girl, twelve years of age, had been killed by a tiger at 
Kot Kindri village. The report which reached me through 
Donald Stewart of the Forest Department gave no details, and 
it was not until I visited the village some weeks later that I was 
able to get particulars of the tragedy. It appeared that, about 
noon one day, this girl was picking up windfalls from a mango 
tree close to and in full view of the village, when a tiger suddenly 
appeared. Before the men working nearby were able to render 
any assistance, it carried her off. No attempt was made to 

The Thak Man-eater 169 

follow up the tiger, and as all signs of drag and blood trail had 
been obliterated and washed away long before I arrived on the 
scene, I was unable to find the place where the tiger had taken 
the body to. 

Kot Kindi is about four miles south-west of Chuka, and 
three miles due west of Thak. It was in the valley between 
Kot Kindri and Thak that the Chuka man-eater had been shot 
the previous April. 

During the summer of '38 the Forest Department had marked 
all the trees in this area for felling, and it was feared that if 
the man-eater was not accounted for before November when 
the felling of the forest was due to start the contractors would 
not be able to secure labour, and would repudiate their contracts. 
It was in this connexion that Donald Stewart had written to me 
shortly after the girl had been killed, and when in compliance 
with his request I promised to go to Kot Kindri, I must confess 
that it was more in the interests of the local inhabitants than 
in the interest of the contractors that I gave my promise. 

My most direct route to Kot Kindri was to go by rail to 
Tanakpur, and from there by foot via Kaldhunga and Chuka. 
This route, however, though it would save me a hundred miles 
of walking, would necessitate my passing through the most 
deadly malaria belt in northern India, and to avoid it I decided 
to go through the hills to Mornaula, and from there along the 
abandoned Sherring road to its termination on the ridge above 
Kot Kindri. 

While my preparations for this long trek were still under way 
a second report reached Naini Tal of a kill at Sem, a small 
village on the left bank of the Ladhya and distant about half 
a mile from Chuka. 

The victim on this occasion was an elderly woman, the 
mother of the Headman of Sem. This unfortunate woman had 
been killed while cutting brushwood on a steep bank between 
two terraced fields. She had started work at the further end of 

170 Man-eaters of Rumaoii 

the fifty-yard-long bank, and had cut the brushwood to within 
a yard of her hut when the tiger sprang on her from the field 
above. So sudden and unexpected was the attack that the 
woman only had time to scream once before the tiger killed her, 
and taking her up the twelve-foot-high bank crossed the upper 
field and disappeared with her into the dense jungle beyond. 
Her son, a lad some twenty years of age, was at the time work- 
ing in a paddy field a few yards away and witnessed the whole 
occurrence, but was too frightened to try to render any assist- 
ance. In response to the lad's urgent summons the Patwari 
arrived at Sem two days later, accompanied by eighty men he 
had collected. Following up in the direction the tiger had gone, 
he found the woman's clothes and a few small bits of bone. 
This kill had taken place at 2 p.m. on a bright sunny day, and 
the tiger had eaten its victim only sixty yards from the hut 
where it had killed her. 

On receipt of this second report Ibbotson, Deputy Commis- 
sioner of the three Districts of Almora, Naini Tal and Garhwal, 
and I held, a council of war, the upshot of which was that 
Ibbotson, who was on the point of setting out to settle a land 
dispute at Askot on the border of Tibet, changed his tour 
programme and, instead of going via Bagashwar, decided to 
accompany me to Sem, and from there go on to Askot. 

The route I had selected entailed a considerable amount of 
hill-climbing so we eventually decided to go up the Nandhour 
valley, cross the watershed between the Nandhour and Ladhya, 
and follow the latter river down to Sem. The Ibbotsons accord- 
ingly left Naini Tal on I2th October, and the following day I 
joined them at Chaurgallia. 

Going up the Nandhour and fishing as we went our best 
day's catch on light trout rods was a hundred and twenty fish 
we arrived on the fifth day at Durga Pepal. Here we left the 
river, and after a very stiff climb camped for the night on the 
watershed. Making an early start next morning we pitched our 

The Thak Man-eater 171 

tents that night on the left bank of the Ladhya, twelve miles 
from Chalti. 

The monsoon had given over early, which was very fortunate 
for us, for owing to the rock cliffs that run sheer down into the 
valley the river has to be crossed every quarter of a mile or so. 
At one of these fords my cook, who stands five feet in his boots, 
was washed away and only saved from a watery grave by the 
prompt assistance of the man who was carrying our lunch basket. 

On the tenth day after leaving Chaurgallia we made camp 
on a deserted field at Sem, two hundred yards from the hut 
where the woman had been killed, and a hundred yards from 
the junction of the Ladhya and Sarda rivers. 

Gill Waddell, of the Police, whom we met on our way down 
the Ladhya, had camped for several days at Sem and had tied 
out a buffalo that MacDonald of the Forest Department had 
very kindly placed at our disposal, and though the tiger had 
visited Sem several times during Waddell' s stay, it had not 
killed the buffalo. 

The day following our arrival at Sem, while Ibbotson was 
interviewing Patwaris, Forest Guards, and Headmen of the 
surrounding villages, I went out to look for pug marks. 
Between our camp and the junction, and also on both banks of 
the Ladhya, there were long stretches of sand. On this sand I 
found the tracks of a tigress, and of a young male tiger possibly 
one of the cubs I had seen in April. The tigress had crossed 
and recrossed the Ladhya a number of times during the last 
few days, and the previous night had walked along the strip of 
sand in front of our tents. It was this tigress the villagers sus- 
pected of being the man-eater, and as she had visited Sem 
repeatedly since the day the Headman's mother had been killed 
they were probably correct. 

An examination of the pug marks of the tigress showed her 
as being an average-sized animal, in the prime of life. Why she 
had become a man-eater would have to be determined later, but 

172 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

one of the reasons might have been that she had assisted to eat 
the victims of the Chuka tiger when they were together the 
previous mating season, and having acquired a taste for human 
flesh and no longer having a mate to provide her with it, had 
now turned a man-eater herself. This was only a surmise, and 
proved later to be incorrect. 

Before leaving Naini Tal I had written to the Tahsildar of 
Tanakpur and asked him to purchase four young male buffaloes 
for me, and to send them to Sem. One of these buffaloes died 
on the road, the other three arrived on the 24th , and we tied 
them out the same evening together with the one MacDonald 
had given us. On going out to visit these animals next morning 
I found the people of Chuka in a great state of excitement. The 
fields round the village had been recently ploughed, and the 
tigress the previous night had passed close to three families who 
were sleeping out on the fields with their cattle; fortunately in 
each case the cattle had seen the tigress and warned the sleepers 
of her approach. After leaving the cultivated land the tigress had 
gone up the track in the direction of Kot Kindri, and had passed 
close to two of our buffaloes without touching either of them. 

The Patwari, Forest Guards, and villagers had told us on our 
arrival at Sem that it would be a waste of time tying out our 
young buffaloes, as they were convinced the man-eater would 
not kill them. The reason they gave was that this method of 
trying to shoot the man-eater had been tried by others without 
success, and that in any case if the tigress wanted to eat 
buffaloes there were many grazing in the jungles for her to 
choose from. In spite of this advice however we continued to 
tie out our buffaloes, and for the next two nights the tigress 
passed close to one or more of them, without touching them. 

On the morning of the 27th, just as we were finishing break- 
fast, a party of men led by Tewari, the brother of the Headman 
of Thak, arrived in camp and reported that a man of their 
village was missing. They stated that this man had left the 

The Thak Man-eater 173 

village at about noon the previous day, telling his wife before 
leaving that he was going to see that his cattle did not stray 
beyond the village boundary, and as he had not returned they 
feared he had been killed by the man-eater. 

Our preparations were soon made, and at ten o'clock the 
Ibbotsons and I set off for Thak, accompanied by Tewari and 
the men he had brought with him. The distance was only 
about two miles but the climb was considerable, and as we did 
not want to lose more time than we could possibly help we 
arrived at the outskirts of the village out of breath, and in a 
lather of sweat. 

As we approached the village over the scrub-covered flat bit 
of ground which I have reason to refer to later, we heard a 
woman crying. The wailing of an Indian woman mourning her 
dead is unmistakable, and on emerging from the jungle we came 
on the mourner the wife of the missing man and some ten or 
fifteen men, who were waiting for us on the edge of the culti- 
vated land. These people informed us that from their houses 
above they had seen some white object, which looked 4ike part of 
the missing man's clothing, in a field overgrown with scrub thirty 
yards from where we were now standing. Ibbotson, Tewari and 
I set off to investigate the white object, while Mrs Ibbotson 
took the woman and the rest of the men up to the village. 

The field, which had been out of cultivation for some years, 
was covered with a dense growth of scrub not milike chrysanthe- 
mum, and it was not until we were standing right over the white 
object that Tewari recognized it as the loin-cloth of the missing 
man. Near it was the man's cap. A struggle had taken place 
at this spot, but there was no blood. The absence of blood 
where the attack had taken place and for some considerable 
distance along the drag could be accounted for by the tigress 
having retained her first hold, for no blood would flow in such 
a case until the hold had been changed. 
Thirty yards on the hill above us there was a clump of bushes 

174 Man-caters of Kumaon 

roofed over with creepers. This spot would have to be looked 
at before following up the drag, for it was not advisable to 
have the tigress behind us. In the soft earth under the bushes 
we found the pug marks of the tigress, and where she had lain 
before going forward to attack the man. 

Returning to our starting point we agreed on the following 
plan of action. Our primary object was to try to stalk the 
tigress and shoot her on her kill: to achieve this end I was to 
follow the trail and at the same time keep a lookout in front, 
with Tewari who was unarmed a yard behind me keeping a 
sharp lookout to right and left, and Ibbotson a yard behind 
Tewari to safeguard us against an attack from the rear. In the 
event of either Ibbotson or I seeing so much as a hair of the 
tigress, we were to risk a shot. 

Cattle had grazed over this area the previous day, disturbing 
the ground, and as there was no blood and the only indication 
of the tigress's passage was an occasional turned-up leaf or 
crushed blade of grass, progress was slow. After carrying the 
man for tw> hundred yards the tigress had killed and left him, 
and had returned and carried him off several hours later, when 
the people of Thak had heard several sambur calling in this 
direction. The reason for the tigress not having carried the man 
away after she had killed him was possibly due to his cattle 
having witnessed the attack on him, and driven her away. 

A big pool ot blood had formed where the man had been 
lying, and as the blood from the wound in his throat had stop- 
ped flowing by the time the tigress had picked him up again, and 
further, as she was now holding him by the small of the back, 
whereas she had previously held him by the neck, tracking be- 
came even more difficult. The tigress kept to the contour of 
the hill, and as the undergrowth here was very dense and visi- 
bility only extended to a few yards, our advance was slowed 
down. In two hours we covered half a mile, and reached a ridge 
beyond which lay the valley in which, six months previously, we 

The Thak Man-eater 175 

had tracked down and killed the Chuka man-eater. On this 
ridge was a great slab of rock, which sloped upwards and away 
from the direction in which we had come. The tigress's tracks 
went down to the right of the rock and I felt sure she was lying 
up under the overhanging portion of it, or in the close vicinity. 

Both Ibbotson and I had on light rubber-soled shoes Tewari 
was bare-footed and we had reached the rock without making 
a sound. Signing to my two companions to stand still and keep 
a careful watch all round, I got a foothold on the rock, and inch 
by inch went forward. Beyond the rock was a short stretch of 
flat ground, and as more of this ground came into view, I felt 
certain my suspicion that the tigress was lying under the pro- 
jection was correct. I had still a foot or two to go before I could 
look over, when I saw a movement to my left front. A golden- 
rod that had been pressed down had sprung erect, and a second 
later there was a slight movement in the bushes beyond, and a 
monkey in a tree on the far side of the bushes started calling. 

The tigress had chosen the spot for her after-dinner sleep with 
great care, but unfortunately for us she was not asleep; and 
when she saw the top of my head I had removed my hat 
appearing over the rock, she had risen and, taking a step side- 
ways, had disappeared under a tangle of blackberry bushes. 
Had she been lying anywhere but where she was she could not 
have got away, no matter how quickly she had moved, without 
my getting a shot at her. Our so-carefully-carried-out stalk had 
failed at the very last moment, and there was nothing to be done 
now but find the kill, and see if there was sufficient of it left for 
us to sit up over. To have followed her into the blackberry 
thicket would have been useless, and would also have reduced 
our chance of getting a shot at her later. 

The tigress had eaten her meal close to where she had been 
lying and as this spot was open to the sky and to the keen 
eyes of vultures she had removed the kill to a place of safety 
where it would not be visible from the air. Tracking now was 

176 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

easy, for there was a blood trail to follow. The trail led over a 
ridge of great rocks and fifty yards beyond these rocks we found 
the kill. 

I am not going to harrow your feelings by attempting to 
describe that poor torn and mangled thing; stripped of every 
stitch of clothing and atom of dignity, which only a few hours 
previously had been a Man, the father of two children and the 
breadwinner of the wailing woman who was facing without 
any illusions the fate of a widow of India. I have seen many 
similar sights, each more terrible than the one preceding it, in 
the thirty-two years I have been hunting man-eaters, and on 
each occasion I have felt that it would have been better to have 
left the victim to the slayer than recover a mangled mass of 
flesh to be a nightmare ever after to those who saw it. And yet 
the cry of blood for blood, and the burning desire to rid a 
countryside of a menace than which there is none more terrible, 
is irresistible; and then there is always the hope, no matter how 
absurd one knows it to be, that the victim by some miracle may 
still be alive and in need of succour. 

The chance of shooting over a kill an animal that has in all 
probability become a man-eater through a wound received over 
a kill, is very remote, and each succeeding failure, no matter 
what its cause, tends to make the animal more cautious, until 
it reaches a state when it either abandons its kill after one meal 
or approaches it as silently and as slowly as a shadow, scanning 
every leaf and twig with the certainty of discovering its would-be 
slayer, no matter how carefully he may be concealed or how silent 
and motionless he may be; a one-in-a-million chance of getting a 
shot, and yet, who is there among us who would not take it? 

The thicket into which the tigress had retired was roughly 
forty yards square, and she could not leave it without the 
monkey seeing her and warning us, so we sat down back to 
back, to have a smoke and listen if the jungle had anything 
further to tell us while we considered our next move. 

he seroii:! largest of the group of tigers passing within 
leu feel of I he tainera 

Tin 1 largest of (lit- I igers lifiitig OIK* end of the kill - 
an old cart buifulo~-prcparutory to tarrying it away 


See p. 

Five tigers watching while (he sixth descends on the kill 

The white tigress si/ ing up a new arrival 


The Thak Man-eater 177 

To make a machan it was necessary to return to the village, 
and during our absence the tigress was almost certain to cany 
away the kill. It had been difficult when she was carrying a 
whole human being to track her, but now, when her burden was 
considerably lighter and she had been disturbed, she would 
probably go for miles and we might never find her kill again, 
so it was necessary for one of us to remain on the spot, while 
the other two went back to the village for ropes. 

Ibbotson, with his usual disregard for danger, elected to go 
back, and while he and Tewari went down the hill to avoid the 
difficult ground we had recently come over, I stepped up on to a 
small tree close to the kill. Four feet above ground the tree divid- 
ed in two, and by leaning on one half and putting my feet against 
the other, I was able to maintain a precarious seat which was 
high enough off the ground to enable me to see the tigress if she 
approached the kill, and also high enough, if she had any designs 
on me, to see her before she got to within striking distance. 

Ibbotson had been gone fifteen or twenty minutes when I 
heard a rock tilt forward, and then back. The rock was evident- 
ly very delicately poised, and when the tigress had put her 
weight on it and felt it tilt forward she had removed her foot 
and let the rock fall back into place. The sound had come 
from about twenty yards to my left front, the only direction in 
which it would have been possible for me to have fired without 
being knocked out of the tree. 

Minutes passed, each pulling my hopes down a little lower 
from the heights to which they had soared, and then, when 
tension on my nerves and the weight of the heavy rifle were 
becoming unbearable, I heard a stick snap at the upper end of 
the thicket. Here was an example of how a tiger can move 
through the jungle. From the sound she had made I knew her 
exact position, had kept my eyes fixed on the spot, and yet she 
had come, seen me, stayed some time watching me, and then gone 
away without my having seen a leaf or a blade of grass move. 


178 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

When tension on nerves is suddenly relaxed cramped and 
aching muscles call loudly for ease, and though in this case it 
only meant the lowering of the rifle on to my knees to take the 
strain off my shoulders and arms, the movement, small though 
it was, sent a comforting feeling through the whole of my body. 
No further sound came from the tigress, and an hour or two 
later I heard Ibbotson returning. 

Of all the men I have been on shikar with Ibbotson is by far 
and away the best, for not only has he the heart of a lion, but 
he thinks of everything, and with it all is the most unselfish man 
that carries a gun. He had gone to fetch a rope and he returned 
with rugs, cushions, more hot tea than even I could drink and 
an ample lunch; and while I sat on the windward side of the 
kill to refresh myself , Ibbotson put a man in a tree forty yards 
away to distract the tigress's attention, and climbed into a tree 
overlooking the kill to make a rope machan. 

When the machan was ready Ibbotson moved the kill a few 
feet a very unpleasant job and tied it securely to the foot of a 
sapling to prevent the tigress carrying it away, for the moon 
was on the wane and the first two hours of the night at this 
heavily wooded spot would be pitch dark. After a final smoke 
I climbed on to the machan, and when I had made myself 
comfortable Ibbotson recovered the man who was making a 
diversion and set off in the direction of Thak to pick up Mrs 
Ibbotson and return to camp at Sem. 

The retreating party were out of sight but were not yet out 
of sound when I heard a heavy body brushing against leaves, 
and at the same moment the monkey, which had been silent all 
this time and which I could now see sitting in a tree on the far 
side of the blackberry thicket, started calling. Here was more 
luck than I hoped for, and our ruse of putting a man up a tree 
to cause a diversion appeared to be working as successfully as 
it had done on a previous occasion. A tense minute passed, 
a second, and a third, and then from the ridge where I had 

The Thak Man-eater 179 

climbed on to the big slab of rock a kakar came dashing down 
towards me, barking hysterically. The tigress was not coming 
to the kill but had gone off after Ibbotson. I was now in a 
fever of anxiety, for it was quite evident that she had aban- 
doned her kill and gone to try to secure another victim. 

Before leaving Ibbotson had promised to take every pre- 
caution but on hearing the kakar barking on my side of the 
ridge he would naturally assume the tigress was moving in the 
vicinity of the kill, and if he relaxed his precautions the tigress 
would get her chance. Ten very uneasy minutes for me passed, 
and then I heard a second kakar barking in the direction of 
Thak; the tigress was still following, but the ground there was 
more open, and there was less fear of her attacking the party. 
The danger to the Ibbotsons was, ( however, not over by any 
means for they had to go through two miles of very heavy jun- 
gle to reach camp; and if they stayed at Thak until sundown 
listening for my shot, which I feared they would do and which 
as a matter of fact they did do, they would run a very grave 
risk on the way down. Ibbotson fortunately realized t the danger 
and kept his party close together, and though the tigress fol- 
lowed them the whole way as her pug marks the following 
morning showed they got back to camp safely. 

The calling of kakar and sambur enabled me to follow the 
movements of the tigress. An hour after sunset she was down 
at the bottom of the valley two miles away. She had the whole 
night before her, and though there was only one chance in a 
million of her returning to the kill I determined not to lose that 
chance. Wrapping a rug round me, for it was a bitterly cold 
night, I made myself comfortable in a position in which I could 
remain for hours without movement, 

I had taken my seat on the machan at 4 p.m., and at 10 p.m. 
I heard two animals coming down the hill towards me. It was 
too dark under the trees to see them, but when they got to the 
lee of the kill I knew they were porcupines. Rattling their 

180 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

quills, and making the peculiar booming noise that only a porcu- 
pine can make, they approached the kill and, after walking 
round it several times, continued on their way. An hour later, 
and when the moon had been up some time, I heard an animal 
in the valley below. It was moving from east to west, and when 
it came into the wind blowing downhill from the kill it made a 
long pause, and then came cautiously up the hill. While it was 
still some distance away I heard it snuffing the air, and knew 
it to be a bear. The smell of blood was attracting him, but 
mingled with it was the less welcome smell of a human being, 
and taking no chances he was very carefully stalking the kill. 
His nose, the keenest of any animal's in the jungle, had 
apprised him while he was still in the valley that the kill was 
the property of a tiger. This to a Himalayan bear who fears 
nothing, and who will, as I have on several occasions seen, drive 
a tiger away from its kill, was no deterrent, but what was, and 
what was causing him uneasiness, was the smell of a human 
being mingled with the smell of blood and tiger. 

On reaching the flat ground the bear sat down on his haunches 
a few yards from the kill, and when he had satisfied himself that 
the hated human smell held no danger for him he stood erect and 
turning his he'ad sent a long-drawn-out cry, which I interpreted 
as a call to a mate, echoing down into the valley. Then without 
any further hesitation he walked boldly up to the kill, and as he 
nosed it I aligned the sights of my rifle on him. I know of only 
one instance of a Himalayan bear eating a human being; on 
that occasion a woman cutting grass had fallen down a cliff and 
been killed, and a' bear finding the mangled body had carried it 
away and had eaten it. This bear, however, on whose shoulder 
my sights were aligned, appeared to draw the line at human 
flesh, and after looking at and smelling the kill continued his in- 
terrupted course to the west. When the sounds of his retreat died 
away in the distance the jungle settled down to silence until in- 
terrupted! a little after sunrise, by Ibbotson's very welcome arrival. 

The Thak Man-eater 181 

With Ibbotson came the brother and other relatives of the 
dead man, who very reverently wrapped the remains in a clean 
white cloth and, laying it on a cradle made of two saplings and 
rope which Ibbotson provided, set off for the burning ghat on 
the banks of the Sarda, repeating under their breath as they 
went the Hindu hymn of praise 'Ram nam sat hai' with its 
refrain, ' Satya bol gat hai'. 

Fourteen hours in the cold had not been without its effect 
on me, but after partaking of the hot drink and food Ibbotson 
had brought, I felt none the worse for my long vigil. 


After following the Ibbotsons down to Chuka on the evening 
of the ayth the tigress, some time during the night, crossed the 
Ladhya into the scrub jungle at the back of our camp. Through 
this scrub ran a path that had been regularly used by the villag- 
ers of the Ladhya valley until the advent of the man-eater had 
rendered its passage unsafe. On the 28th the two mail-runners 
who carried Ibbotson's dak on its first stage to T^jiakpur got 
delayed in camp and to save time took, or more correctly started 
to take, a short cut through this scrub. Very fortunately the 
leading man was on the alert and saw the tigress as she crept 
through the scrub and lay down near the path ahead of them. 

Ibbotson and I had just got back from Thak when these two 
men dashed into camp, and taking our rifles we hurried off to 
investigate. We found the pug marks of the tigress where she had 
come out on the path and followed the men for a short distance, 
but we did not see her though in one place where the scrub was 
very dense we saw a movement and heard an animal moving off. 

On the morning of the 2Qth, a party of men came down from 
Thak to report that one of their bullocks had not returned to 
the cattle-shed the previous night, and on a search being made 
where it had last been seen a little blood had been found. At 
2 p.m. the Ibbotsons and I were at this spot, and a glance at the 

182 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

ground satisfied us that the bullock had been killed and carried 
away by a tiger. After a hasty lunch Ibbotson and I, with two 
men following carrying ropes for a machan, set out along the 
drag. It went diagonally across the face of the hill for a hundred 
yards and then straight down into the ravine in which I had 
fired at and missed the big tiger in April. A few hundred yards 
down this ravine the bullock, which was an enormous animal, 
had got fixed between two rocks and, not being able to move 
it, the tiger had eaten a meal off its hind quarters and left it. 

The pug marks of the tiger, owing to the great weight she 
was carrying, were splayed out and it was not possible to say 
whether she was the man-eater or not; but as every tiger in this 
area was suspect I decided to sit up over the kill. There was 
only one tree within reasonable distance of the kill, and as the 
men climbed into it to make a machan the tiger started calling 
in the valley below. Very hurriedly a few strands of rope were 
tied between two branches, and while Ibbotson stood on guard 
with his rifle I climbed the tree and took my seat on what, during 
the next fourteen hours, proved to be the most uncomfortable 
as well as the most dangerous machan I have ever sat on. The 
tree was leaning away from the hill, and from the three uneven 
strands of rope I was sitting on there was a drop of over a 
hundred feet into the rocky ravine below. 

The tiger called several times as I was getting into the tree 
and continued to call at longer intervals late into the evening, 
the last call coming from a ridge half a mile away. It was now 
quite evident that the tiger had been lying up close to the kill 
and had seen the men climbing into the tree. Knowing from 
past experience what this meant, she had duly expressed resent- 
ment at being disturbed and then gone away, for though I sat 
on the three strands of rope until Ibbotson returned next morn- 
ing I did not see or hear anything throughout the night. 

Vultures were not likely to find the kill, for the ravine was 
deep and overshadowed by trees, and as the bullock was large 

The Thak Man-eater 183 

enough to provide the tiger with several meals we decided not 
to sit up over it again where it was now lying, hoping the tiger 
would remove it to some more convenient place where we should 
have a better chance of getting a shot. In this however we were 
disappointed, for the tiger did not again return to the kill. 

Two nights later the buffalo we had tied out behind our camp 
at Sera was killed, and through a little want of observation on 
my part a great opportunity of bagging the man-eater was lost. 

The men who brought in the news of this kill reported that 
the rope securing the animal had been broken, and that the kill 
had been carried away up the ravine at the lower end of which 
it had been tied. This was the same ravine in which MacDonald 
and I had chased a tigress in April, and as on that occasion she 
had taken her kill some distance up the ravine I now very 
foolishly concluded she had done the same with this kill. 

After breakfast Ibbotson and I went out to find the kill and 
see what prospect there was for an evening sit-up. 

The ravine in which the buffalo had been killed was about 
fifty yards wide and ran deep into the foot-hills. For two hundred 
yards the ravine was straight and then bent round to the left. 
Just beyond the bend, and on the left-hand side of it, there was 
a dense patch of young saplings backed by a hundred-foot ridge 
on which thick grass was growing. In the ravine, and close to 
the saplings, there was a small pool of water. I had been up the 
ravine several times in April and had failed to mark the patch 
of saplings as being a likely place for a tiger to lie up in, and did 
not take the precautions I should have taken when rounding the 
bend, with the result that the tigress who was drinking at the 
pool saw us first. There was only one safe line of retreat for 
her and she took it. This was straight up the steep hill, over 
the ridge, and into the sal forest beyond. 

The hill was too steep for us to climb, so we continued on 
up the ravine to where a sambur track crossed it, and following 
this track we gained the ridge. The tigress was now in a 

184 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

triangular patch of jungle bounded by the ridge, the Ladhya, 
and a cliff down which no animal could go. The area was not 
large, and there were several deer in it which from time to time 
advised us of the position of the tigress, but unfortunately the 
ground was cut up by a number of deep and narrow rain-water 
channels in which we eventually lost touch with her. 

We had not yet seen the kill, so we re-entered the ravine by 
the sambur track and found the kill hidden among the saplings. 
These saplings were from six inches to a foot in girth, and were 
not strong enough to support a machan, so we had to abandon 
the idea of a machan. With the help of a crowbar a rock could 
possibly have been prised from the face of the hill and a place 
made in which to sit, but this was not advisable when dealing 
with a man-eater. 

Reluctant to give up the chance of a shot we considered the 
possibility of concealing ourselves in the grass near the kill, in 
the hope that the tigress would return before dark and that we 
should see her before she saw us. There were two objections to 
this plan: (a) if we did not get a shot and the tigress saw us 
near her kill she might abandon it as she had done her other two 
kills and (6) between the kill and camp there was very heavy 
scrub jungle, and if we tried to go through this jungle in the 
dark the tigress would have us at her mercy. So very reluctantly 
we decided to leave the kill to the tigress for that night, and 
hope for the best on the morrow. 

On our return next morning we found that the tigress had 
carried away the kill. For three hundred yards she had gone 
up the bed of the ravine, stepping from rock to rock, and leaving 
no drag marks. At this spot three hundred yards from where 
she had picked up the kill we were at fault, for though there 
were a number of tracks on a wet patch of ground, none of 
them had been made while she was carrying the kill. Eventually, 
after casting round in circles, we found where she had left the 
ravine and gone up the hill on the left. 

The Thak Man-eater 185 

This hill up which the tigress had taken her kill was over- 
grown with ferns and goldenrod and tracking was not difficult, 
but the going was, for the hill was very steep and in places a 
detour had to be made and the track picked up further on. 
After a stiff climb of a thousand feet we came to a small plateau, 
bordered on the left by a cliff a mile wide. On the side of the 
plateau nearest the cliff the ground was seamed and cracked, 
and in these cracks a dense growth of sal, two to six feet in 
height, had sprung up. The tigress had taken her kill into this 
dense cover and it was not until we actually trod on it that we 
were aware of its position. 

As we stopped to look at all that remained of the buffalo there 
was a low growl to our right. With rifles raised we waited for a 
minute and then, hearing a movement in the undergrowth a little 
beyond where the growl had come from, we pushed our way 
through the young sal for ten yards and came on a small clear- 
ing, where the tigress had made herself a bed on some soft grass. 
On the far side of this grass the hill sloped upwards for twenty 
yards to another plateau, and it was from this slope that the 
sound we had heard had come. Proceeding up the slope as 
silently as possible we had just reached the flat ground, which 
was about fifty yards wide, when the tigress left the far side and 
went down into the ravine, disturbing some kaleege pheasants 
and a kakar as she did so. To have followed her would have been 
useless, so we went back to the kill and, as there was still a good 
meal on it, we selected two trees to sit in, and returned to camp. 

After an early lunch we went back to the kill and, hampered 
with our rifles, climbed with some difficulty into the trees we had 
selected. We sat up for five hours without seeing or hearing 
anything. At dusk we climbed down from our trees, and 
stumbling over the cracked and uneven ground eventually 
reached the ravine when it was quite dark. Both of us had an 
uneasy feeling that we were being followed, but by keeping close 
together we reached camp without incident at 9 p.m. 

186 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

The Ibbotsons had now stayed at Sem as long as it was pos- 
sible for them to do so, and early next morning they set out on 
their twelve days' walk to keep their appointment at Askot. 
Before leaving, Ibbotson extracted a promise from me that I 
would not follow up any kills alone, or further endanger my life 
by prolonging my stay at Sem for more than a day or two. 

After the departure of the Ibbotsons and their fifty men, the 
camp, which was surrounded by dense scrub, was reduced to 
my two servants and myself my coolies were living in a room 
in the Headman's house so throughout the day I set all hands 
to collecting driftwood, of which there was an inexhaustible 
supply at the junction, to keep a fire going all night. The fire 
would not scare away the tigress but it would enable us to see 
her if she prowled round our tents at night, and anyway the 
nights were setting in cold and there was ample excuse, if one 
were needed, for keeping a big fire going all night. 

Towards evening, when my men were safely back in camp, 
I took a rifle and went up the Ladhya to see if the tigress Iiad 
crossed the river. I found several tracks in the sand, but no 
fresh ones, and at dusk I returned, convinced that the tigress 
was still on our side of the river. An hour later, when it was 
quite dark, a kakar started barking close to our tents and barked 
persistently for half an hour. 

My men had taken over the job of tying out the buffaloes, 
a task which Ibbotson's men had hitherto performed, and next 
morning I accompanied them when they went out to bring in 
the buffaloes. Though we covered several miles I did not find 
any trace of the tigress. After breakfast I took a rod and went 
down to the junction, and had one of the best day's fishing I 
have ever had. The junction was full of big fish, and though 
my light tackle was broken frequently I killed sufficient mahseer 
to feed the camp. 

Again, as on the previous evening, I crossed the Ladhya, with 
the intention of taking up a position on a rock overlooking the 

The Thak Man-eater 187 

open ground on the right bank of the river and watching for the 
tigress to cross. As I got away from the roar of the water at 
the junction I heard a sambur and a monkey calling on the hill 
to my left, and as I neared the rock I came on the fresh tracks 
of the tigress. Following them back I found the stones still wet 
where she had forded the river. A few minutes' delay in camp 
to dry my fishing line and have a cup of tea cost a man his 
life, several thousand men weeks of anxiety, and myself many 
days of strain, for though I stayed at Sem for another three 
days I did not get another chance of shooting the tigress. 

On the morning of the yth, as I was breaking camp and 
preparing to start on my twenty-mile walk to Tanakpur, a big 
contingent of men from all the surrounding villages arrived, and 
begged me not to leave them to the tender mercies of the man- 
eater. Giving them what advice it was possible to give people 
situated as they were, I promised to return as soon as it was 
possible for me to do so. 

I caught the train at Tanakpur next morning and arrived back 
in Naini Tal on 9 November, having been away nearly a month. 


I left Sem on the 7th of November and on the I2th the tigress 
killed a man at Thak. I received news of this kill through the 
Divisional Forest Officer, Haidwani, shortly after we had moved 
down to our winter home at the foot of the hills, and by doing 
forced marches I arrived at Chuka a little after sunrise on 
the 24th. 

It had been my intention to breakfast at Chuka and then go 
on to Thak and make that village my headquarters, but the 
Headman of Thak, whom I found installed at Chuka, informed 
me that every man, woman, and child had left Thak immediately 
after the man had been killed on the 12th, and added that if I 
carried out my intention of camping at Thak I might be able to 
safeguard my own life, but it would not be possible to safeguard 

188 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

the lives of my men. This was quite reasonable, and while 
waiting for my men to arrive, the Headman helped me to select 
a site for my camp at Chuka where my men would be reasonably 
safe and I should have some privacy from the thousands of men 
who were now arriving to fell the forest. 

On receipt of the Divisional Forest Officer's telegram 
acquainting me of the kill, I had telegraphed to the Tahsildar at 
Tanakpur to send three young male buffaloes to Chuka. My 
request had been promptly complied with and the three animals 
had arrived the previous evening. 

After breakfast I took one of the buffaloes and set out for 
Thak, intending to tie it up on the spot where the man had 
been killed on the I2th. The Headman had given me a very 
graphic account of the events of that date, for he himself had 
nearly fallen a victim to the tigress. It appeared that towards 
the afternoon, accompanied by his granddaughter, a girl ten 
years of age, he had gone to dig up ginger tubers in a field some 
sixty yards from his house. This field is about half an acre in 
extent and is surrounded on three sides by jungle, and being on 
the slope of a fairly steep hill it is visible from the Headman's 
house. After the old man and his granddaughter had been at 
work for some time his wife, who was husking rice in the court- 
yard of the house, called out in a very agitated voice and asked 
him if he was deaf that he could not hear the pheasants and 
other birds that were chattering in the jungle above him. Fortu- 
nately for him, he acted promptly. Dropping his hoe, he grabbed 
the child's hand and together they ran back to the house, urged 
on by the woman who said she could now see a red animal in 
the bushes at the upper end of the field. Half an hour later the 
tigress killed a man who was lopping branches off a tree in a 
field three hundred yards from the Headman's house. 

From the description I had received from the Headman I 
had no difficulty in locating the tree. It was a small gnarled 
tree growing out of a three-foot-high bank between two terraced 

The Thak Man-eater 189 

fields, and had been lopped year after year for cattle fodder. 
The man who had been killed was standing on the trunk holding 
one branch and cutting another, when the tigress came up from 
behind, tore his hold from the branch and, after killing him, 
carried him away into the dense brushwood bordering the fields. 
Thak village was a gift from the Chand Rajas, who ruled 
Kumaon for many hundreds of years before the Gurkha occupa- 
tion, to the forefathers of the present owners in return for their 
services at the Punagiri temples. (The promise made by the 
Chand Rajas that the lands of Thak and two other villages 
would remain rent-free for all time has been honoured by the 
British Government for a hundred years.) From a collection of 
grass huts the village has in the course of time grown into a 
very prosperous settlement with masonry houses roofed with 
slate tiles, for not only is the land very fertile, but the revenue 
from the temples is considerable. 

Like all other villages in Kumaon, Thak during its hundreds 
of years of existence has passed through many vicissitudes, but 
never before in its long history had it been deserted as it now 
was. On my previous visits I had found it a hive of industry, 
but when I went up to it this afternoon, taking the young 
buffalo with me, silence reigned over it. Every one of the hun- 
dred or more inhabitants had fled taking their livestock with 
them the only animal I saw in the village was a cat, which gave 
me a warm welcome; so hurried had the evacuation been that 
many of the doors of the houses had been left wide open. On 
every path in the village, in the courtyard of the houses and in 
the dust before all the doors I found the tigress's pug marks. 
The open doorways were a menace, for the path as it wound 
through the village passed close to them, and in any of the 
houses the tigress might have been lurking. 

On the hill thirty yards above the village were several cattle 
shelters, and in the vicinity of these shelters I saw more kaleege 
pheasants, red jungle fowl and white-capped babblers than I 

190 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

have ever before seen, and from the confiding way in which 
they permitted me to walk among them it is quite evident that 
the people of Thak have a religious prejudice against the taking 
of life. 

From the terraced fields above the cattle shelters a bird's-eye 
view of the village is obtained, and it was not difficult, from the 
description the Headman had given me, to locate the tree where 
the tigress had secured her last victim. In the soft earth under 
the tree there were signs of a struggle and a few clots of dried 
blood. From here the tigress had carried her kill a hundred 
yards over a ploughed field, through a stout hedge, and into the 
dense brushwood beyond. The foot-prints from the village, and 
back the way they had come, showed that the entire population 
of the village had visited the scene of the kill, but from the tree 
to the hedge there was only one track, the track the tigress had 
made when carrying away her victim. No attempt had been 
made to follow her up and recover the body. 

Scraping away a little earth from under the tree I exposed a 
root and to this root I tied my buffalo, bedding it down with a 
liberal supply of straw taken from a nearby haystack. 

The village, which is on the north face of the hill, was now 
in shadow, and if I was to get back to camp before dark it was 
time for me to make a start. Skirting round the village to 
avoid the menace of the open doorways, I joined the path 
below the houses. 

This path after it leaves the village passes under a giant 
mango tree from the roots of which issues a cold spring of clear 
water. After running along a groove cut in a massive slab of 
rock, this water falls into a rough masonry trough, from where 
it spreads onto the surrounding ground, rendering it soft and 
slushy. I had drunk at the spring on my way up, leaving my 
foot-prints in this slushy ground, and on approaching the spring 
now for a second drink, I found the tigress's pug marks superim- 
posed on my foot-prints. After quenching her thirst the tigress 

The Thak Man-eater 191 

had avoided the path and had gained the village by climbing a 
steep bank overgrown with strobilanthes and nettles, and taking 
up a position in the shelter of one of the houses had possibly 
watched me while I was tying up the buffalo, expecting me to 
return the way I had gone; it was fortunate for me that I had 
noted the danger of passing those open doorways a second time, 
and had taken the longer way round. 

When coming up from Chuka I had taken every precaution 
to guard against a sudden attack, and it was well that I had 
done so, for I now found from her pug marks that the tigress 
had followed me all the way up from my camp, and next morn- 
ing when I went back to Thak I found she had followed me 
from where I had joined the path below the houses, right down 
to the cultivated land at Chuka. 

Reading with the illumination I had brought with me was 
not possible, so after dinner that night, while sitting near a 
fire which was as welcome for its warmth as it was for the 
feeling of security it gave me, I reviewed the whole situation 
and tried to think out some plan by which it would be possible 
to circumvent the tigress. 

When leaving home on the 22nd I had promised that I would 
return in ten days, and that this would be my last expedition 
after man-eaters. Years of exposure and strain and long absences 
from home extending as in the case of the Chowgarh tigress 
and the Rudraprayag leopard to several months on end were 
beginning to tell as much on my constitution as on the nerves 
of those at home, and if by the 30th of November I had not 
succeeded in killing this man-eater, others would have to be 
found who were willing to take on the task. 

It was now the night of the 24th, so I had six clear days 
before me. Judging from the behaviour of the tigress that even- 
ing she appeared to be anxious to secure another human victim, 
and it should not therefore be difficult for me, in the time at my 
disposal, to get in touch with her. There were several methods 

192 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

by which this could be accomplished, and each would be tried 
in turn. The method that offers the greatest chance of success 
of shooting a tiger in the hills is to sit up in a tree over a kill, 
and if during that night the tigress did not kill the buffalo I 
had tied up at Thak, I would the following night, and every 
night thereafter, tie up the other two buffaloes in places I had 
already selected, and failing to secure a human kill it was just 
possible that the tigress might kill one of my buffaloes, as she 
had done on a previous occasion when the Ibbotsons and I were 
camped at Sem in April. After making up the fire with logs 
that would burn all night, I turned in, and went to sleep listen- 
ing to a kakar barking in the scrub jungle behind my tent. 

While breakfast was being prepared the following morning I 
picked up a rifle and went out to look for tracks on the stretch 
of sand on the right bank of the river, between Chuka and Sem. 
The path, after leaving the cultivated land, runs for a short 
distance through scrub jungle, and here I found the tracks of a 
big male leopard, possibly the same animal that had alarmed 
the kakar jLhe previous night. A small male tiger had crossed 
and recrossed the Ladhya many times during the past week, and 
in the same period the man-eater had crossed only once, coming 
from the direction of Sem. A big bear had traversed the sand 
a little before my arrival, and when I got back to camp the 
timber contractors complained that while distributing work that 
morning they had run into a bear which had taken up a very 
threatening attitude, in consequence of which their labour had 
refused to work in the area in which the bear had been seen. 

Several thousand men the contractors put the figure at five 
thousand had now concentrated at Chuka and Kumaya Chak 
to fell and saw up the timber and carry it down to the motor 
road that was being constructed, and all the time this consider- 
able labour force was working they shouted at the tops of their 
voices to keep up their courage. The noise in the valley result- 
ing from axe and saw, the crashing of giant trees down the steep 

The Thak Man-eater 193 

hillside, the breaking of rocks with sledge hammers, and com- 
bined with it all the shouting of thousands of men, can better be 
imagined than described. That there were many frequent alarms 
in this nervous community was only natural, and during the 
next few days I covered much ground and lost much valuable 
time in investigating false rumours of attacks and kills by the 
man-eater, for the dread of the tigress was not confined to the 
Ladhya valley but extended right down the Sarda through 
Kaldhunga to the gorge, an area of roughly fifty square miles in 
which an additional ten thousand men were working. 

That a single animal should terrorize a labour force of these 
dimensions in addition to the residents of the surrounding vil- 
lages and the hundreds of men who were bringing foodstuffs for 
the labourers or passing through the valley with hill produce in 
the way of oranges (purchasable at twelve annas a hundred), 
walnuts, and chillies to the market at Tanakpur, is incredible, 
and would be unbelievable were it not for the historical, and 
nearly parallel, case of the man-eater of Tsavo, where a pair 
of lions, operating only at night, held up work for Iqng periods 
on the Uganda Railway. 

To return to my story. Breakfast disposed of on the morning 
of the 25th, I took a second buffalo and set out for Thak. The 
path, after leaving the cultivated land at Chuka, skirts along 
the foot of the hill for about half a mile before it divides. One 
arm goes straight up a ridge to Thak and the other, after con- 
tinuing along the foot of the hill for another half-mile, zigzags 
up through Kumaya Chak to Kot Kindri. 

At the divide I found the pug marks of the tigress and 
followed them all the way back to Thak. The fact that she had 
come down the hill after me the previous evening was proof 
that she had not killed the buffalo. This, though very disap- 
pointing, was not at all unusual; for tigers will on occasions visit 
an animal that is tied up for several nights in succession before 
they finally kill it, for tigers do not kill unless they are hungry. 

194 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

Leaving the second buffalo at the mango tree, where there 
was an abundance of green grass, I skirted round the houses and 
found No. i buffalo sleeping peacefully after a big feed and a 
disturbed night. The tigress, coming from the direction of the 
village as her pug marks showed, had approached to within a 
few feet of the buffalo, and had then gone back the way she had 
come. Taking the buffalo down to the spring I let it graze for 
an hour or two, and then took it back and tied it up at the same 
spot where it had been the previous night. 

The second buffalo I tied up fifty yards from the mango tree 
and at the spot where the wailing woman and villagers had met 
us the day the Ibbotsons and I had gone up to investigate the 
human kill. Here a ravine a few feet deep crossed the path, on 
one side of which there was a dry stump, and on the other an 
almond tree in which a machan could be made. I tied No. 2 
buffalo to the stump, and bedded it down with sufficient hay to 
keep it going for several days. There was nothing more to be 
done at Thak so I returned to camp and, taking the third buffalo, 
crossed the Ladhya and tied it up behind Sem, in the ravine 
where the tigress had killed one of our buffaloes in April. 

At my request the Tahsildar of Tanakpur had selected three 
of the fattest young male buffaloes he could find. All three were 
now tied up in places frequented by the tigress, and as I set out 
to visit them on the morning of the 26th I had great hopes that 
one of them had been killed and that I should get an opportunity 
of shooting the tigress over it. Starting with the one across the 
Ladhya, I visited all in turn and found that the tigress had not 
touched any of them. Again, as on the previous morning, I 
found her tracks on that path leading to Thak, but on this 
occasion there was a double set of pug marks, one coming down 
and the other going back. On both her journeys the tigress had 
kept to the path and had passed within a few feet of the buffalo 
that was tied to the stump, fifty yards from the mango tree. 

On my return to Chuka a deputation of Thak villagers led 

The Thak Man-eater 195 

by the Headman came to my tent and requested me to accom- 
pany them to the village to enable them to replenish their supply 
of foodstuffs, so at midday, followed by the Headman and his 
tenants, and by four of my own men carrying ropes for a machan 
and food for me, I returned to Thak and mounted guard while 
the men hurriedly collected the provisions they needed. 

After watering and feeding the two buffaloes I retied No. 2 
to the stump and took No. i half a mile down the hill and tied 
it to a sapling on the side of the path. I then took the villagers 
back to Chuka and returned a few hundred yards up the hill 
for a scratch meal while my men were making the machan. 

It was now quite evident that the tigress had no fancy for my 
fat buffaloes, and as in three days I had seen her tracks five 
times on the path leading to Thak, I decided to sit up over the 
path and try to get a shot at her that way. To give me warning 
of the tigress's approach I tied a goat with a bell round its neck 
on the path, and at 4 p.m. I climbed into the tree. I told my men 
to return at 8 a.m. the following morning, and began my watch. 

At sunset a cold wind started blowing and while I was 
attempting to pull a coat over my shoulders the ropes on one 
side of the machan slipped, rendering my seat very uncomfort- 
able. An hour later a "storm came on, and though it did not rain 
for long it wet me to the skin, greatly adding to my discomfort. 
During the sixteen hours I sat in the tree I did not see or hear 
anything. The men turned up at 8 a.m. I returned to camp 
for a hot bath and a good meal, and then, accompanied by six 
of my men, set out for Thak. 

The overnight rain had washed all the old tracks off the path, 
and two hundred yards above the tree I had sat in I found the 
fresh pug marks of the tigress, where she had come out of the 
jungle and gone up the path in the direction of Thak. Very 
cautiously I stalked the first buffalo, only to find it lying asleep 
on the path; the tigress had skirted round it, rejoined the path 
a few yards further on and continued up the hill. Following on 

196 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

her tracks I approached the second buffalo, and as I got near 
the place where it had been tied two blue Himalayan magpies 
rose off the ground and went screaming down the hill. 

The presence of these birds indicated (a) that the buffalo was 
dead, (b) that it had been partly eaten and not carried away, 
and (c) that the tigress was not in the close vicinity. 

On arrival at the stump to which it had been tied I saw that 
the buffalo had been dragged off the path and partly eaten, and 
on examining the animal I found that it had not been killed by 
the tigress but that it had in all probability died of snake-bite 
(there were many hamadryads in the surrounding jungles), and 
that, finding it lying dead on the path, the tigress had eaten a 
meal off it and had then tried to drag it away. When she 
found she could not break the rope, she had partly covered the 
kill over with dry leaves and brush-wood and continued on her 
way up to Thak. 

Tigers as a rule are not carrion eaters but they do on occasions 
eat animals they themselves have not killed. For instance, on 
one occasion I left the carcass of a leopard on a fire track and, 
when I returned next morning to recover a knife I had for- 
gotten, I found that a tiger had removed the carcass to a dis- 
tance of a hundred yards and eaten two-thirds of it. 

On my way up from Chuka I had dismantled the machan I 
had sat on the previous night, and while two of my men climbed 
into the almond tree to make a seat for me the tree was not 
big enough for a machan the other four went to the spring to 
fill a kettle and boil some water for tea. By 4 p.m. I had par- 
taken of a light meal of biscuits and tea which would have to 
keep me going until next day, and refusing the men's request 
to be permitted to stay the night in one of the houses in Thak, 
I sent them back to camp. There was a certain amount of risk 
in doing this, but it was nothing compared to the risk they 
would run if they spent the night in Thak. 

My seat on the tree consisted of several strands of rope tied 

The Thak Man-eater 197 

between two upright branches, with a couple of strands lower 
down for my feet to rest on. When I had settled down comfort- 
ably I pulled the branches round me and secured them in 
position with a thin cord, leaving a small opening to see and 
fire through. My 'hide 1 was soon tested, for shortly after the 
men had gone the two magpies returned, and attracted others, 
and nine of them fed on the kill until dusk. The presence 
of the birds enabled me to get some sleep, for they would have 
given me warning of the tigress's approach, and with their 
departure my all-night vigil started. 

There was still sufficient daylight to shoot by when the moon, 
a day off the full, rose over the Nepal hills behind me and 
flooded the hillside with brilliant light. The rain of the previous 
night had cleared the atmosphere of dust and smoke and, after 
the moon had been up a few minutes, the light was so good that 
I was able to see a sambur and her young one feeding in a field 
of wheat a hundred and fifty yards away. 

The dead buffalo was directly in front and about twenty yards 
away, and the path along which I expected the tigress to come 
was two or three yards nearer, so I should have an easy shot at 
a range at which it would be impossible to miss the tigress 
provided she came; and there was no reason why she should 
not do so. 

The moon had been up two hours, and the sambur had 
approached to within fifty yards of my tree, when a kakar 
started barking on the hill just above the village. The kakar 
had been barking for some minutes when suddenly a scream 
which I can only very inadequately describe as 'Ar-Ar-Arr' 
dying away on a long-drawn-out note, came from the direction 
of the village. So sudden and so unexpected had the scream been 
that I involuntarily stood up with the intention of slipping down 
from the tree and dashing up to the village, for the thought 
flashed through my mind that the man-eater was killing one of 
my men. Then in a second flash of thought I remembered I had 

198 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

counted them one by one as they had passed my tree, and that 
I had watched them out of sight on their way back to camp to 
see if they were obeying my instructions to keep close together. 

The scream had been the despairing cry of a human being in 
mortal agony, and reason questioned how such a sound could 
have come from a deserted village. It was not a thing of my 
imagination, for the kakar had heard it and had abruptly stopped 
barking, and the sambur had dashed away across the fields 
closely followed by her young one. Two days previously, when 
I had escorted the men to the village, I had remarked that they 
appeared to be very confiding to leave their property behind 
doors that were not even shut or latched, and the Headman 
had answered that even if their village remained untenanted for 
years their property would be quite safe, for they were priests 
of Punagiri and no one would dream of robbing them; he added 
that as long as the tigress lived she was a better guard of their 
property if guard were needed than any hundred men could 
be, for no one in all that countryside would dare to approach 
the village^for any purpose, through the dense forests that sur- 
rounded it, unless escorted by me as they had been. 

The screams were not repeated, and as there appeared to be 
nothing that I could do I settled down again on my rope seat. 
At 10 p.m. a kakar that was feeding on the young wheat crop at 
the lower end of the fields dashed away barking, and a minute 
later the tigress called twice. She had now left the village and 
was on the move, and even if she did not fancy having another 
meal off the buffalo there was every hope of her coming along 
the path which she had used twice every day for the past few 
days. With finger on trigger and eyes straining on the path I sat 
hour after hour until daylight succeeded moonlight, and when 
the sun had been up an hour, my men returned. Very thought- 
fully they had brought a bundle of dry wood with them, and in 
a surprisingly short time I was sitting down to a hot cup of tea. 
The tigress may have been lurking in the bushes close to us, or 

The Thak Man-eater 199 

she may have been miles away, for after she had called at 
10 p.m. the jungles had been silent. 

When I got back to camp I found a number of men sitting 
near my tent. Some of these men had come to inquire what 
luck I had had the previous night, and others had come to tell 
me that the tigress had called from midnight to a little before 
sunrise at the foot of the hill, and that all the labourers engaged 
in the forests and on the new export road were too frightened 
to go to work. I had already heard about the tigress from my 
men, who had informed me that, together with the thousands 
of men who were camped round Chuka, they had sat up all 
night to keep big fires going. 

Among the men collected near my tent was the Headman of 
Thak, and when the others had gone I questioned him about 
the kill at Thak on the I2th of the month when he so narrowly 
escaped falling a victim to the man-eater. 

Once again the Headman told me in great detail how he had 
gone to his fields to dig ginger, taking his grandchild with him, 
and how on hearing his wife calling he had caught Ihe child's 
hand and run back to the house where his wife had said a word 
or two to him about not keeping his ears open and thereby en- 
dangering his own and the child's life and how a few minutes 
later the tigress had killed a man while he was cutting leaves 
off a tree in a field above his house. 

All this part of the story I had heard before, and I now asked 
him if he had actually seen the tigress killing the man. His 
answer was, no; and he added that the tree was not visible from 
where he had been standing. I then asked him how he knew 
the man had been killed, and he said, because he had heard him. 
In reply to further questions he said the man had not called for 
Jielp but had cried out; and when asked if he had cried out once 
he said, ' No, three times ', and then at my request he gave an 
imitation of the man's cry. It was the same but a very modi- 
fied rendering as the screams I had heard the previous night. 

200 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

I then told him what I had heard and asked him if it was 
possible for anyone to have arrived at the village accidentally, 
and his answer was an emphatic negative. There were only two 
paths leading to Thak, and every man, woman, and child in the 
villages through which these two paths passed knew that Thak 
was deserted and the reason for its being so. It was known 
throughout the district that it was dangerous to go near Thak 
in daylight, and it was therefore quite impossible for anyone to 
have been in the village at eight o'clock the previous night. 

When asked if he could give any explanation for screams 
having come from a village in which there could not according 
to him have been any human beings, his answer was that he 
could not. And as I could do no better than the Headman it 
were best to assume that neither the kakar, the sambur, nor I 
heard those very real screams the screams of a human being in 
mortal agony. 


When all my visitors, including the Headman, had gone, and 
I was having breakfast, my servant informed me that the Head- 
man of Sem had come to the camp the previous evening and 
had left word for me that his wife, while cutting grass near the 
hut where his mother had been killed, had come on a blood 
trail, and that he would wait for me near the ford over the 
Ladhya in the morning. So after breakfast I set out to invest- 
gate this trail. 

While I was fording the river I saw four men hurrying 
towards me, and as soon as I was on dry land they told me 
that when they were coming down the hill above Sem they had 
heard a tiger calling across the valley on the hill between Chuka 
and Thak. The noise of the water had prevented my hearing 
the call. I told the men that I was on my way to Sem and 
would return to Chuka shortly, and left them. 

The Headman was waiting for me near his house, and his 

The Thak Man-eater 201 

wife took me to where she had seen the blood trail the previous 
day. The trail, after continuing along a field for a short distance, 
crossed some big rocks, on one of which I found the hairs of a 
kakar. A little further on I found the pug marks of a big male 
leopard, and while I was looking at them I heard a tiger call. 
Telling my companions to sit down and remain quiet, I listened, 
in order to locate the tiger. Presently I heard the call again, 
and thereafter it was repeated at intervals of about two minutes. 

It was the tigress calling and I located her as being five hun- 
dred yards below Thak and in the deep ravine which, starting 
from the spring under the mango tree, runs parallel to the path 
and crosses it at its junction with the Kumaya Chak path. 

Telling the Headman that the leopard would have to wait to 
be shot at a more convenient time, I set off as hard as I could 
go for camp, picking up at the ford the four men who were 
waiting for my company to Chuka. 

On reaching camp I found a crowd of men round my tent, 
most of them sawyers from Delhi, but including the petty con- 
tractors, agents, clerks, timekeepers, and gangmen of the 
financier who had taken up the timber and road construction 
contracts in the Ladhya valley. These men had come to see me 
in connexion with my stay at Chuka. They informed me that 
many of the hillmen carrying timber and working on the road 
had left for their homes that morning and that if I left Chuka 
on ist December, as they had heard I intended doing, the entire 
labour force, including themselves, would leave on the same 
day; for already they were too frightened to eat or sleep, and 
no one would dare to remain in the valley after I had gone. It 
was then the morning of 2Qth November and I told the men 
that I still had two days and two nights and that much could 
happen in that time, but that in any case it would not be pos- 
sible for me to prolong my stay beyond the morning of the ist. 

The tigress had by now stopped calling, and when my servant 
had put up something for me to eat I set out for Thak, 

202 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

intending, if the tigress called again and I could locate her posi- 
tion; to try to stalk her; and if she did not call again, to sit up 
over the buffalo. I found her tracks on the path and saw where 
she had entered the ravine, and though I stopped repeatedly on 
my way up to Thak and listened I did not hear her again. So a 
little before sunset I ate the biscuits and drank the bottle of tea 
I had brought with me, and then climbed into the almond tree 
and took my seat on the few strands of rope that had to serve 
me as a machan. On this occasion the magpies were absent, so 
I was unable to get the hour or two's sleep the birds had 
enabled me to get the previous evining. 

If a tiger fails to return to its kill the first night it does not 
necessarily mean that the kill has been abandoned. I have on 
occasions seen a tiger return on the tenth night and eat what 
could no longer be described as fresh. On the present occasion, 
however, I was not sitting over a kill, but over an animal that 
the tigress had found dead and off which she had made a small 
meal, and had she not been a man-eater I would not have con- 
sidered tKe chance of her returning the second night good 
enough to justify spending a whole night in a tree when she had 
not taken sufficient interest in the dead buffalo to return to it the 
first night. It was therefore with very little hope of getting a 
shot that I sat on the tree from sunset to sunrise, and though 
the time I spent was not as long as it had been the previous 
night, my discomfort was very much greater, for the ropes I 
was sitting on cut into me, and a cold wind that started blowing 
shortly after moonrise and continued throughout the night 
chilled me to the bone. On this second night I heard no jungle 
or other sounds nor did the sambur and her young one come out 
to feed on the fields. As daylight was succeeding moonlight I 
thought I heard a tiger call in the distance, but could not be 
sure of the sound or of its direction. 

When I got back to camp my servant had a cup of tea and 
a hot bath ready for me, but before I could indulge in the 

The Thak Man-eater 203 

latter my 4O-lb. tent was not big enough for me to bathe in 
I had to get rid of the excited throng of people who Vrere 
clamouring to tell me their experiences of the night before," It 
appeared that shortly after moonrise the tigress had started call- 
ing close to Chuka, and after calling at intervals for a couple of 
hours had gone off in the direction of the labour camps at 
Kumaya Chak. The men in these camps hearing her coming 
started shouting to try to drive her away, but so far from having 
this effect the shouting only infuriated her the more and she de- 
monstrated in front of the camps until she had cowed the men 
into silence. Having accomplished this she spent the rest of the 
night between the labour camps and Chuka, daring all and 
sundry to shout at her. Towards morning she had gone away 
in the direction of Thak, and my informants were surprised and 
very disappointed that I had not met her. 

This was my last day of man-eater hunting, and though I 
was badly in need of rest and sleep, I decided to spend what 
was left of it in one last attempt to get in touch with the tigress. 

The people not only of Chuka and Sem but of all the 
surrounding villages, and especially the men from Talla Des 
where some years previously I had shot three man-eaters, were 
very anxious that I should try sitting up over a live goat, for, 
said they, ' All hill tigers eat goats, and as you have had no 
luck with buffaloes, why not try a goat?' More to humour them 
than with any hope of getting a shot, I consented to spend this 
last day in sitting up over the two goats I had already purchased 
for this purpose. 

I was convinced that no matter where the tigress wandered 
to at night her headquarters were at Thak, so at midday, taking 
the two goats, and accompanied by four of my men, I set out 
for Thak. 

The path from Chuka to Thak, as I have already mentioned, 
runs up a very steep ridge. A quarter of a mile on this side of 
Thak the path leaves the ridge, and crosses a more or less flat 


204 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

bit of ground which extends right up to the mango tree. For 
its whole length across this flat ground the path passes through 
dense brushwood, and is crossed by two narrow ravines which 
run east and join the main ravine. Midway between these two 
ravines, and a hundred yards from the tree I had sat in the 
previous two nights, there is a giant almond tree; this tree had 
been my objective when I left camp. The path passes right 
under the tree and I thought that if I climbed half-way up not 
only should I be able to see the two goats, one of which I in- 
tended tying at the edge of the main ravine and the other at the 
foot of the hill to the right, but I should also be able to see the 
dead buffalo. As all three of these points were at some distance 
from the tree, I armed myself with an accurate .275 rifle, in 
addition to the 450/400 rifle which I took for an emergency. 

I found the climb up from Chuka on this last day very trying, 
and I had just reached the spot where the path leaves the ridge 
for the flat ground, when the tigress called about a hundred and 
fifty yards to my left. The ground here was covered with dense 
undergrowth and trees interlaced with creepers, and was cut up 
by narrow and deep ravines, and strewn over with enormous 
boulders a very unsuitable place in which to stalk a man-eater. 
However, before deciding on what action I should take it was 
necessary to know whether the tigress was lying down, as she 
very well might be, for it was then I p.m., or whether she was 
on the move and if so in what direction. So making the men 
sit down behind me I listened, and presently the call was re- 
peated; she had moved some fifty yards, and appeared to be 
going up the main ravine in the direction of Thak. 

This was very encouraging, for the tree I had selected to sit 
in was only fifty yards from the ravine. After enjoining silence 
on the men and telling them to keep close behind me, we hur- 
ried along the path. We had about two hundred yards to go to 
reach the tree and had covered half the distance when, as we 
approached a spot where the path was bordered on both sides 

The Thak Man-eater 205 

by dense brushwood, a covey of kaleege pheasants rose out of 
the brushwood and went screaming away. I knelt down and 
covered the path for a few minutes, but as nothing happened 
we went cautiously forward and reached the tree without further 
incident. As quickly and as silently as possible one goat was 
tied at the edge of the ravine, while the other was tied at the 
foot of the hill to the right; then I took the men to the edge of 
the cultivated land and told them to stay in the upper verandah 
of the Headman's house until I fetched them, and ran back to 
the tree. I climbed to a height of forty feet, and pulled the 
rifle up after me with a cord I had brought for the purpose. 
Not only were the two goats visible from my seat, one at a 
range of seventy and the other at a range of sixty yards, but I 
could also see part of the buffalo, and as the .275 rifle was very 
accurate I felt sure I could kill the tigress if she showed up 
anywhere on the ground I was overlooking. 

The two goats had lived together ever since I had purchased 
them on my previous visit, and, being separated now, were 
calling lustily to each other. Under normal conditions a goat 
can be heard at a distance of four hundred yards, but here the 
conditions were not normal, for the goats were tied on the side 
of a hill down which a strong wind was blowing, and even if 
the tigress had moved after I had heard her, it was impossible 
for her not to hear them. If she was hungry, as I had every 
reason to believe she was, there was a very good chance of my 
getting a shot. 

After I had been on the tree for ten minutes a kakar barked 
near the spot the pheasants had risen from. For a minute or 
two my hopes rose sky-high and then dropped back to earth, 
for the kakar barked only three times and ended on a note of 
inquiry; evidently there was a snake in the scrub which neither 
he nor the pheasants liked the look of. 

My seat was not uncomfortable and the sun was pleasingly 
warm, so for the next three hours I remained in the tree without 

206 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

any discomfort. At 4 p.m. the sun went down behind the high 
hill above Thak and thereafter the wind became unbearably 
cold. For an hour I stood the discomfort, and then decided to 
give up, for the cold had brought on an attack of ague, and if 
the tigress came now it would not be possible for me to hit her. 
I retied the cord to the rifle and let it down, climbed down 
myself and walked to the edge of the cultivated land to call up 
my men. 

There are few people, I imagine, who have not experienced 
that feeling of depression that follows failure to accomplish any- 
thing they have set out to do. The road back to camp after a 
strenuous day when the chukor L bag is full is only a step com- 
pared with the same road which one plods over, mile after 
weary mile, when the bag is empty, and if this feeling of depres- 
sion has ever assailed you at the end of a single day, and when 
the quarry has only been chukor, you will have some idea of the 
depth of* my depression that evening when, after calling up my 
men and untying the goats, I set off on my two-mile walk to 
camp, for my effort had been not of a single day or my quarry 
a few birds, nor did my failure concern only myself. 

Excluding the time spent on the journeys from and to home, 
I had been on the heels of the man-eater from 2yd October to 
7th November, and again from 24th to 30th November, and 
it is only those of you who have walked in fear of having the 
teeth of a tiger meet in your throat who will have any idea of the 
effect on one's nerves of days and weeks of such anticipation. 

Then again my quarry was a man-eater, and my failure to 
shoot it would very gravely affect everyone who was working in, 
or whose homes were in, that area. Already work in the forests 
had been stopped, and the entire population of the largest 
village in the district had abandoned their homes. Bad as the 

1 Hill partridge. 

The Thak Man-eater 207 

conditions were they would undoubtedly get worse if the man- 
eater was not killed, for the entire labour force could not afford to 
stop work indefinitely, nor could the population of surround- 
ing villages afford to abandon their homes and their cultivation 
as the more prosperous people of Thak had been able to do. 

The tigress had long since lost her natural fear of human 
beings as was abundantly evident from her having carried away 
a girl picking up mangoes in a field close to where several men 
were working, killing a woman near the door of her house, 
dragging a man off a tree in the heart of a village, and, the 
previous night, cowing a few thousand men into silence. And 
here was I, who knew full well what the presence of a man-eater 
meant to the permanent and to the temporary inhabitants and to 
all the people who passed through the district on their way to 
the markets at the foot-hills or the temples at Punagiri, plodding 
down to camp on what I had promised others would be my 
last day of man-eater hunting; reason enough for a depression 
of soul which I felt would remain with me for the rest of my 
days. Gladly at that moment would I have bartered the success 
that had attended thirty-two years of man-eater hunting for one 
unhurried shot at the tigress. 

I have told you of some of the attempts I made during this 
period of seven days and seven nights to get a shot at the 
tigress, but these were by no means the only attempts I made. 
I knew that I was being watched and followed, and every time 
I went through the two miles of jungle between my camp and 
Thak I tried every trick I have learnt in a lifetime spent in the 
jungles to outwit the tigress. Bitter though my disappointment 
was, I felt that my failure was not in any way due to anything 
I had done or left undone. 


My men when they rejoined me said that, an hour after the 
kakar had barked, they had heard the tigress calling a long way 
off but were not sure of the direction. Quite evidently the 

208 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

tigress had as little interest in goats as she had in buffaloes, but 
even so it was unusual for her to have moved at that time of day 
from a locality in which she was thoroughly at home, unless she 
had been attracted away by some sound which neither I nor 
my men had heard; however that may have been, it was quite 
evident that she had gone, and as there was nothing further 
that I could do I set off on my weary tramp to camp. 

The path, as I have already mentioned, joins the ridge that 
runs down to Chuka a quarter of a mile from Thak, and when 
I now got to this spot where the ridge is only a few feet wide 
and from where a view is obtained of the two great ravines that 
run down to the Ladhya river, I heard the tigress call once and 
again across the valley on my left. She was a little above and 
to the left of Kumaya Chak, and a few hundred yards below 
the Kot Kindri ridge on which the men working in that area 
had built themselves grass shelters. 

Here was an opportunity, admittedly forlorn and unquestion- 
ably desperate, of getting a shot; still it was an opportunity 
and the last I should ever have, and the question was, whether 
or not I was justified in taking it. 

When I got down from the tree I had one hour in which to 
get back to camp before dark. Calling up the men, hearing 
what they had to say, collecting the goats and walking to the 
ridge had taken about thirty minutes, and judging from the 
position of the sun which was now casting a red glow on the 
peaks of the Nepal hills, I calculated I had roughly half an 
hour's daylight in hand. This time factor, or perhaps it would 
be more correct to say light factor, was all-important, for if I 
took the opportunity that offered, on it would depend the lives 
of five men. 

The tigress was a mile away and the intervening ground was 
densely wooded, strewn over with great rocks and cut up by a 
number of deep nullahs, but she could cover the distance well 
within the half -hour if she wanted to. The question I had to 

The Thak Man-eater 209 

decide was, whether or not I should try to call her up. If I 
called and she heard me, and came while it was still daylight 
and gave me a shot, all would be well; on the other hand, if she 
came and did not give me a shot some of us would not reach 
camp, for we had nearly two miles to go and the path the whole 
way ran through heavy jungle, and was bordered in some places 
by big rocks, and in others by dense brushwood. It was useless to 
consult the men, for none of them had ever been in a jungle be- 
fore coming on this trip, so the decision would have to be mine. 

I decided to try to call up the tigress. 

Handing my rifle over to one of the men I waited until the 
tigress called again and, cupping my hands round my mouth 
and filling my lungs to their utmost limit, sent an answering call 
over the valley. Back came her call and thereafter, for several 
minutes, call answered call. She would come, had in fact 
already started, and if she arrived while there was light to shoot 
by, all the advantages would be on my side, for I had the select- 
ing of the ground on which it would best suit me to meet her. 
November is the mating season for tigers and it was ^vident that 
for the past forty-eight hours she had been rampaging through 
the jungles in search of a mate, and that now, on hearing what 
she thought was a tiger answering her mating call, she would 
lose no time in joining him. 

Four hundred yards down the ridge the path runs for fifty 
yards across a flat bit of ground. At the far right-hand side of 
this flat ground the path skirts a big rock and then drops steeply, 
and continues in a series of hairpin bends, down to the next 
bend. It was at this rock I decided to meet the tigress, and on 
my way down to it I called several times to let her know I was 
changing my position, and also to keep in touch with her. 

I want you now to have a clear picture of the ground in your 
mind, to enable you to follow the subsequent events. Imagine 
then a rectangular piece of ground forty yards wide and eighty 
yards long, ending in a more or less perpendicular rock face. 

210 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

The path coming down from Thak runs on to this ground at its 
short or south end, and after continuing down the centre for 
twenty-five yards bends to the right and leaves the rectangle on 
its long or east side. At the point where the path leaves the flat 
ground there is a rock about four feet high. From a little 
beyond where the path bends to the right, a ridge of rock, three 
or four feet high, rises and extends to the north side of the 
rectangle, where the ground falls away in a perpendicular rock 
face. On the near or path side of this low ridge there is a dense 
line of bushes approaching to within ten feet of the four-foot- 
high rock I have mentioned. The rest of the rectangle is grown 
over with trees, scattered bushes, and short grass. 

It was my intention to lie on the path by the side of the rock 
and shoot the tigress as she approached me, but when I tried this 
position I found it would not be possible for me to see her until 
she was within two or three yards, and further, that she could get 
at me either round the rock or through the scattered bushes on 
my left without my seeing her at all. Projecting out of the rock, 
from the sijle opposite to that from which I expected the tigress 
to approach, there was a narrow ledge. By sitting sideways I 
found I could get a little of my bottom on the ledge, and by put- 
ting my left hand flat on the top of the rounded rock and stretch- 
ing out my right leg to its full extent and touching the ground 
with my toes, retain my position on it. The men and goats I 
placed immediately behind, and ten to twelve feet below me. 

The stage was now set for the reception of the tigress, who 
while these preparations were being made had approached to 
within three hundred yards. Sending out one final call to give 
her direction, I looked round to see if my men were all right. 

The spectacle these men presented would under other circum- 
stances have been ludicrous, but was here tragic. Sitting in a 
tight little circle with their knees drawn up and their heads 
together, with the goats burrowing in under them, they had that 
look of intense expectancy on their screwed-up features that 

The Thak Man-eater 211 

one sees on the faces of spectators waiting to hear a big gun go 
off. From the time we had first heard the tigress from the ridge, 
neither the men nor the goats had made a sound, beyond one 
suppressed cough. They were probably by now frozen with fear 
as well they might be and even if they were I take my hat off 
to those four men who had the courage to do what I, had I been 
in their shoes, would not have dreamt of doing. For seven days 
they had been hearing the most exaggerated and blood-curdling 
tales of this fearsome beast that had kept them awake the past 
two nights, and now, while darkness was coming on, and sitting 
unarmed in a position where they could see nothing, they were 
listening to the man-eater drawing nearer and nearer; greater 
courage, and greater faith, it is not possible to conceive. 

The fact that I could not hold my rifle, a D.B. 450/400, with 
my left hand (which I was using to retain my precarious seat 
on the ledge) was causing me some uneasiness, for apart from 
the fear of the rifle slipping on the rounded top of the rock I 
had folded my handkerchief and placed the rifle on it to try to 
prevent this I did not know what would be the e f ffect of the 
recoil of a high velocity rifle fired in this position. The rifle was 
pointing along the path, in which there was a hump, and it 
was my intention to fire into the tigress's face immediately it 
appeared over this hump, which was twenty feet from the rock. 

The tigress however did not keep to the contour of the hill, 
which would have brought her out on the path a little beyond 
the hump, but crossed a deep ravine and came straight towards 
where she had heard my last call, at an angle which I can best 
describe as one o'clock. This manoeuvre put the low ridge of 
rock, over which I could not see, between us. She had located 
the direction of my last call with great accuracy, but had mis- 
judged the distance, and not finding her prospective mate at the 
spot she had expected him to be, she was now working herself 
up into a perfect fury, and you will have some idea of what the 
fury of a tigress in her condition can be when I tell you that not 

212 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

many miles from my home a tigress on one occasion closed a 
public road for a whole week, attacking everything that 
attempted to go along it, including a string of camels, until 
she was finally joined by a mate. 

I know of no sound more liable to fret one's nerves than 
the calling of an unseen tiger at close range. What effect this 
appalling sound was having on my men I was frightened to 
think, and if they had gone screaming down the hill I should 
not have been at all surprised, for even though I had the heel 
of a good rifle to my shoulder and the stock against my cheek 
I felt like screaming myself. 

But even more frightening than this continuous calling was 
the fading out of the light. Another few seconds, ten or fifteen 
at the most, and it would be too dark to see my sights, and we 
should then be at the mercy of a man-eater, plus a tigress 
wanting a mate. Something would have to be done, and done 
in a hurry if We were not to be massacred, and the only thing I 
could think of was to call. 

The tigress was now so close that I could hear the intake of 
her breath each time before she called, and as she again filled 
her lungs, I did the same with mine, and we called simultane- 
ously. The effect was startingly instantaneous. Without a 
second's hesitation she came tramping with quick steps through 
the dead leaves, over the low ridge and into the bushes a little 
to my right front, and just as I was expecting her to walk right 
on top of me she stopped, and the next moment the full blast 
of her deep-throated call struck me in the face and would have 
carried the hat off my head had I been wearing one. A second's 
pause, then again quick steps; a glimpse of her as she passed 
between two bushes, and then she stepped right out into the 
&pen, and, looking into my face, stopped dead. 

By great and unexpected good luck the half-dozen steps the 
tigress took to her right front carried her almost to the exact 
spot at which my rifle was pointing. Had she continued in the 

The Thak Man-eater 2T3 

direction in which she was coming before her last call, my story 
if written would have had a different ending, for it would 
have been as impossible to slew the rifle on the rounded top of 
the rock as it would have been to lift and fire it with one hand. 

Owing to the nearness of the tigress, and the fading light, all 
that I could see of her was her head. My first bullet caught her 
under the right eye and the second, fired more by accident than 
with intent, took her in the throat and she came to rest with her 
nose against the rock. The recoil from the right barrel loosened 
my hold on the rock and knocked me off the ledge, and the 
recoil from the left barrel, fired while I was in the air, brought 
the rifle up in violent contact with my jaw and sent me heels 
over head right on top of the men and goats. Once again I 
take my hat off to those four men for, not knowing but what 
the tigress was going to land on them next, they caught me as I 
fell and saved me from injury and my rifle from being broken. 

When I had freed myself from the tangle of human and goat 
legs I took the .275 rifle from the man who was holding it, 
rammed a clip of cartridges into the magazine and sent a stream 
of five bullets singing over the valley and across the Sarda into 
Nepal. Two shots, to the thousands of men in the valley and 
in the surrounding villages who were anxiously listening for the 
sound of my rifle, might mean anything, but two shots fol- 
lowed by five more, spaced at regular intervals of five seconds, 
could only be interpreted as conveying one message, and that 
was, that the man-eater was dead. 

I had not spoken to my men from the time we had first heard 
the tigress from the ridge. On my telling them now that she 
was dead and that there was no longer any reason for us to be 
afraid, they did not appear to be able to take in what I was say- 
ing, so I told them to go up and have a look while I found atfd 
lit a cigarette. Very cautiously they climbed up to the rock, but 
went no further for, as I have told you, the tigress was touching 
the other side of it. Late in camp that night, while sitting round 

214 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

a camp-fire, and relating their experiences to relays of eager 
listeners, their narrative invariably ended up with, ' and then the 
tiger whose roaring had turned our livers into water hit the sahib 
on the head and knocked him down on top of us and if you 
don't believe us, go and look at his face/ A mirror is super- 
fluous in camp and even if I had one it could not have made 
the swelling on my jaw, which put me on milk diet for several 
days, look as large and as painful as it felt. 

By the time a sapling had been felled and the tigress lashed 
to it, lights were beginning to show in the Ladhya valley and in 
all the surrounding camps and villages. The four men were very 
anxious to have the honour of carrying the tigress to camp, but 
the task was beyond them; so I left them and set off for help. 

In my three visits to Chuka during the past eight months I 
had been along this path many times by day and always with 
a loaded rifle in my hands, and now I was stumbling down in 
the dark, unarmed, my only anxiety being to avoid a fall. If the 
greatest happiness one can experience is the sudden cessation of 
great pain, hen the second greatest happiness is undoubtedly 
the sudden cessation of great fear. One short hour previously it 
would have taken wild elephants to have dragged from their 
homes and camps the men who now, singing and shouting, were 
converging from every direction, singly and in groups, on the 
path leading to Thak. Some of the men of this rapidly growing 
crowd went up the path to help carry in the tigress, while others 
accompanied me on my way to camp, and would have carried 
me had I permitted them. Progress was slow, for frequent halts 
had to be made to allow each group of new arrivals to express 
their gratitude in their own particular way. This gave the party 
carrying the tigress time to catch us up, and we entered the 
village together. I will not attempt to describe the welcome my 
men and I received, or the scenes I witnessed at Chuka that 
night, for having lived the greater part of my life in the jungles 
I have not the ability to paint word-pictures. 

The Thak Man-eater 215 

A hayrick was dismantled and the tigress laid on it, and an 
enormous bonfire made from driftwood close at hand to light up 
the scene and for warmth, for the night was dark and cold with a 
north wind blowing. Round about midnight my servant, assisted 
by the Headman of Thak and Kunwar Singh, near whose house 
I was camped, persuaded the crowd to return to their respective 
villages and labour camps, telling them they would have ample 
opportunity of feasting their eyes on the tigress the following day. 
Before leaving himself, the Headman of Thak told me he would 
send word in the morning to the people of Thak to return to their 
village. This he did, and two days later the entire population 
returned to their homes, and have lived in peace ever since. 

After my midnight dinner I sent for Kunwar Singh and told 
him that in order to reach home on the promised date I should 
have to start in a few hours, and that he would have to explain 
to the people in the morning why I had gone. This he promised 
to do, and I then started to skin the tigress. Skinning a tiger 
with a pocket-knife is a long job, but it gives one an opportunity 
of examining the animal that one would otherwise^not get, and 
in the case of man-eaters enables one to ascertain, more or less 
accurately, the reason for the animal having become a man-eater. 
The tigress was a comparatively young animal and in the 
perfect condition one would expect her to be at the beginning of 
the mating season. Her dark winter coat was without a blemish, 
and in spite of her having so persistently refused the meals I had 
provided for her she was encased in fat. She had two old gun- 
shot wounds, neither of which showed on her skin. The one in 
her left shoulder, caused by several pellets of homemade buck- 
shot, had become septic, and when healing the skin, over quite 
a large surface, had adhered permanently to the flesh. To what 
extent this wound had incapacitated her it would have been diffi- 
cult to say, but it had evidently taken a very long time to heal, 
and could quite reasonably have been the cause of her having 
become a man-eater. The second wound, which was in her 

216 Man-eaters of Kumaon 

right shoulder, had also been caused by a charge of bucksho 
but had healed without becoming septic. These two wounds 
received over kills in the days before she had become a man 
eater were quite sufficient reason for her not having returned to 
the human and other kills I had sat over. 

After having skinned the tigress I bathed and dressed, and 
though my face was swollen and painful and I had twenty miles 
of rough going before me, I left Chuka walking on air, while 
the thousands of men in and around the valley were peacefully 

I have come to the end of the jungle stories I set out to tel^ 
you and I have also come near the end of my man-eater hunting 

I have had a long spell and count myself fortunate in having 
walked out on my own feet and not been carried out on a 
cradle in the manner and condition of the man of Thak. 

There have been occasions when life has hung by a thread 
and others when a light purse and disease resulting from ex-, 
posure and strain have made the going difficult, but for all these 
occasions I am amply rewarded if my hunting has resulted in 
saving one human life. 


I THINK that all sportsmen who have had the opportunity of 
indulging in the twin sports of shooting tigers with a camera 
and shooting them with a rifle will agree with me that the 
difference between these two forms of sport is as great, if not 
greater, than the taking of a trout on light tackle in a snow-fed 
mountain stream, and the killing of a fish on a fixed rod on 
the sun-baked bank of a tank. 

Apart from the difference in cost between shooting with a 
camera and shooting with a rifle, and the beneficial effect it has 
on our rapidly decreasing stock of tigers, the taking of a good 

lust Tigers 217 

photograph gives far more pleasure to the sportsman than the 
atemisition of a trophy; and further, while the photograph is of 
hfferest to all lovers of wild life, the trophy is only of interest to 
ttie individual who acquired it. As an illustration, I would in- 
stance Fred Champion. Had Champion shot his tigers with a 
rifle instead of with a camera his trophies would long since have 
lost their hair and been consigned to the dustbin, whereas the 
% ecords made by his camera are a constant source of pleasure to 
lim, and are of interest to sportsmen in all parts of the world. 

It was looking at the photographs in Champion's book With 
> Camera in Tiger-Land that first gave me the idea of taking 
Aofpgraphs of tigers. Champion's photographs were taken with 

still camera by flashlight and I decided to go one better and 
try to take tiger pictures with a cinecamera by daylight. The 
gift by a very generous friend of a Bell and Ho well i6-mm. 
camera put just the weapon I needed into my hands, and the 
' freedom of the Forests ' which I enjoy enabled me to roam at 
large over a very wide field. For ten years I stalked through 
many hundreds of miles of tiger country, at times being seen off 
by tigers that resented my approaching their kills, and at other 
times being shooed out of the jungle by tigresses that objected 
to my goifcg near their cubs. During this period I learnt a little 
about the habits and ways of tigers, and though I saw tigers on, 
possibly, two hundred occasions I did not succeed in getting one 
satisfactory picture. I exposed films on many occasions, but the 
results were disappointing owing either to overexposure, under- 
exposure, obstruction of grass or leaves or cobwebs on the lens; 
and in one case owing to the emulsion on the film having been 
melted while being processed. 

Finally in 1938 I decided to devote the whole winter to making 
one last effort to get a good picture. Having learnt by experience 
that it was not possible to get a haphazard picture of a tiger, my 
first consideration was to find a suitable site, and I eventually 
selected an open ravine fifty yards wide, with a tiny stream 

218 Man-eatgrs of Kumaon 

flowing down the centre of it, and flanked on either side by dense 
tree and scrub jungle. To deaden the sound of my camera when 
taking pictures at close range I blocked the stream in several 
places, making miniature waterfalls a few inches high. I then cast 
round for my tigers, and having located seven, in three widely 
separated areas, started to draw them a few yards at a time to mv 
jungle studio. This was a long and a difficult job, with many 
setbacks and disappointments, for the area in which I was oper- 
ating is heavily shot over, and it was only by keeping my tigers 
out of sight that I eventually got them to the exact spot where I 
wanted them. One of the tigers for some reason unknown to me 
left the day after her arrival, but not before I had taken a pic- 
ture of her; the other six I kept together and I exposed a thou- 
sand feet of film on them. Unfortunately it was one of the 
wettest winters we have ever had and several hundred feet of the 
film were ruined through moisture on the lens, underexposure, 
and packing of the film inside the camera due to hurried and care- 
less threading. But, even so, I have got approximately six hun- 
dred feet of film of which I am inordinately proud, for they are 
a living record of six full grown tigers four males, two of which 
are over ten feet, and two females, one of which is a white tigress 
filmed in daylight, at ranges varying from ten to sixty feet. 

The whole proceeding from start to finish took four and a half 
months, and during the countless hours I lay near the tiny stream 
and my miniature waterfalls, not one of the tigers ever saw me. 

The stalking to within a few feet of six tigers in daylight 
would have been an impossible feat, so they were stalked in the 
very early hours of the morning, before night had gone and 
daylight come the heavy winter dew making this possible and 
were filmed as light, and opportunity, offered. 

No matter how clear i6-mm. films may appear when projected 
they do not make good enlargements. However, the accompany- 
ing photographs will give some idea of my jungle studio and 
the size and condition of the subjects I filmed.